Making kids emotionally savvy doesn’t mean making their difficult emotions disappear. Nurturing emotional intelligence in your child is often a long process that may seem futile in the present but that is very important in the later years. That said, when your child starts acting anxious or hyperactive, having a few anxiety busters up your sleeve can help keep you sane. Here are five anxiety and hyperactivity hacks that actually work.
1) Chewing gum
The first studies exploring whether oral sensory activities such as chewing gum can relieve stress were undertaken in the 1930s. The studies found that chewing relieves stress by enabling individuals to release tension through muscle contraction. Other studies have come to similar conclusions.
Chewing can also help reduce anger. Indeed, research has found that the jaw is associated with anger and that human beings clench their teeth when angry.
Oral sensory activities relieve tension, but chewing is not a healthy way of expressing emotions. Although it may help your child cope with anger, stress or anxiety at a specific moment, it is a short-term strategy that masks rather than deals effectively with the causes underlying difficult emotions. A better long-term strategy is to provide an appropriate framework to help your kid learn to manage his or her emotions. Overusing oral sensory activities can also lead to serious health problems later in life.
If you decide to give oral sensory activities a try, choose chewy snacks such as fruits (for example apples) or sugar-free chewing gum.
2) Essential oils
Essential oils are a practical, easy-to-use and natural solution which can work wonders for angry, anxious or hyperactive kids. In one study, researchers sought to determine the extent to which essential oils had on 200 patients waiting for their dental appointment. The researchers found that the essential oils of lavender and orange had a calming effect on the patients. The patients had reduced levels of anxiety and more positive moods.
Other studies suggest that aromatherapy is beneficial to kids. Essential oils, however, can also have an adverse effect on kids and can even lead to poisoning. It is therefore important to know how to use them and which essential oils work best with kids to reduce anxiety, anger and hyperactivity.
3) Sensory jars
Sensory jars, also known as sensory bottles, work by helping distract kids from their anxiety and hyperactivity. They are particularly effective because sensory play can help your kid to focus on only of his or her senses. By blocking out the other senses, your kid can find calm.
You can make your own sensory jars in no time. All you need is a container (for instance a jar or a bottle) and different objects (beads, grains, sea shells, small objects, legos) and/or liquids (baby oil, glycerine, vegetable oil, etc) with which you fill the containers. Youtube has literally thousands of ideas on how you can make sensory jars.
4) Walking meditation
There are many ways of practicing meditation. Walking meditation is one of them. This form of meditation is calming because the simple act of focusing on how the right and the left foot alternate can help get your kid into a meditative state. Walking meditation is used in Montessori schools through the “walking on the line” activity which helps develop kids’ executive functions but also echoes mindfulness. Here is a different form of walking meditation you can try when you sense your child getting anxious or hyperactive
a) Give your child a bell
b) If you would like to participate alongside your child, take a bell as well (every participant should have a bell)
c) Walk around the room in circles while ensuring that no bell makes a sound.
d) Repeat the exercise for as long as is necessary
5) A mandala
Much evidence suggests that art and drawing can combat stress. A Mandala is an excellent art therapy for calming children. It is an abstract design that uses evenly distributed patterns to create a feeling of balance and harmony. According to the cardiologist Herbert Benson, the rhythmic and repetitive motions that a mandala requires can help elicit relaxation. These motions have been associated with a decrease in blood pressure and a lower pulse rate.
Let us know what anxiety and hyperactivity hacks have worked for you in the comments section.