Settling the Unsettled Child
Your child experiences anxiety and is often unable to maintain a calm focus for any length of time. What can you do to settle your unsettled child?
- 1. Keep your environment quiet. Silence or soft, low, slow music is best.
- 2. Keep your voice quiet. Speak softly and slowly . . . to your child and to others in the presence of your child.
- 3. Speak words of reassurance, comfort, and validation . . . to your child and to others in the presence of your child.
- 4. Touch slowly and gently. Lightly and briefly caress your child’s forearm or head.
- 5. Keep your environment a comfortable temperature. For most people, the comfort zone ranges from 68*F – 72*F.
- 6. Ensure that your child is dressed comfortably and is able to position him-/herself comfortably (i.e., stretched out on the couch, sitting in an over-stuffed chair, etc.).
- 7. Avoid bright colors in your environment. Red and orange should give way to mauve and taupe.
- 8. Prominently display pictures that evoke positive feelings in your child. Such pictures may include a pastoral picture featuring a beautiful horse, a portrait of you and your spouse, candid shots of the family pets, etc.
- 9. Introduce pleasant aromas into your environment. Comforting scents include the smell of freshly baked bread, your perfume, and sandalwood.
- 10. Give your child healthy “comfort foods”. “Comfort foods” may include a fruit smoothie, freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies, or a soft pretzel served with drawn butter.
- 11. Be consistent. Once you have established rules, procedures, and traditions, steadfastly reinforce them. If you must deviate, give your child as much notice as is practical and explain why the deviation is appropriate.
- 12. Find daily opportunities for your child to express his/her pent-up anxiety and energy in a way that is appropriate for your family. Such opportunities may include karate lessons, dance lessons, beginner tennis games, lawn care chores, etc.
It may be difficult for you to watch your child struggle and to begin to put these 12 steps into action, but once you have the above 12 steps in place, it will get easier. By following these steps, you can help settle your unsettled child.
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