Since children’s worries often interfere with their learning, it is helpful to understand their concerns. Leah davies, an educationist asked third graders to list one or two things they think about when they can not sleep. The results indicated that children today are anxious about school, their education, parents. They wrote about failing, not getting their work finished, getting bad grades, and about their teacher not liking them.
How can we help children cope with their worries?
1. Make sure they feel valued, safe and secure.
2. Offer opportunities for them to write down or discuss their concerns or feelings.
3. Take time to listen and respond with compassion.
4. Encourage the children to make healthy living choices including eating healthy food and saying “no” to junk food.
5. Stress the importance of getting enough rest and sleep each night.
6. Teach them friendship skills, so that they can develop supportive peer relationships.
7. Help the children understand that some circumstances CANNOT be changed, so they must be accepted, like death, divorce, or illness. Help them identify things they CAN change.
8. Teach them relaxation techniques like slow, deep breathing, counting backwards, or tensing the body and then relaxing.
9. Discuss positive coping skills like walking, playing, exercising, jumping rope, reading, resting, writing down or telling someone their problems.
10. Teach them to use positive self-talk like: “Everyone feels good and bad, now and then”, “Everyone makes mistakes, but what is important is to keep trying,” “Since I only have one body, I am going to take care of it,” “Even though I make mistakes, I can do many things well, ” “Nobody’s life is perfect; everyone has problems.” “Worrying does not help, so I will think of good things.” “Since I care about me, I will make good choices.”
11. Provide opportunities for them to talk about the future in a positive light, picture themselves being successful, and set goals.
12. Emphasize that their job is to have good time in school, be prepared, responsible, honest, tenacious, and cooperative. Stress that with an education and positive character traits, they can fulfill their dreams.
By Leah Davies, M.Ed.