An increasing number of studies have shown the positive effects of mindfulness on kids’ overall well-being. One study found that teaching seven- to eight-year-olds breathing exercises greatly reduced their anxiety levels.
Mindfulness has been associated with many benefits:
- It can help reduce your kid’s stress and anxiety
- It can help improve focus and concentration It can help reduce your kid’s hyperactivity
- It can help teach your kid to find calm
- It can help your kid connect with his or her inner self
- It can teach your kid to manage his or her emotions in a socially appropriate way
The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique is a mindfulness exercise that can help reduce your kid’s anxiety. By helping him focus on the present, this exercise enables him to use his senses to find calm.
Knowing what triggers your child’s strong emotions such as anger or anxiety is important especially because it is easier to deal with his/her emotions before they become overwhelming. Teaching your kid to identify her emotions and become more aware of how strong emotions manifest in her body is, therefore, an important step when dealing with an anxious child.
How to use the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique
The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique is a calming technique that seeks to make your child use 5 of her 7 senses to deal with difficult situations. It is a 5-step exercise that can help reduce her stress and anxiety. It is best used when your child starts displaying symptoms of distress (anxiety, anger, hyperactivity, stress) rather than in the midst of a meltdown.
To begin using this technique, guide your kid to practice deep breathing exercises. Remember that specific visual breathing exercises are more appropriate to help kids practice deep breathing.
After a few moments of deep breathing exercises, it’s time to focus on the senses
5) Sight: Ask your kid to look around him and name 5 things he can see out loud. “I see my fingers, I see a blue chair…”
4) Sound: Ask your kid to listen attentively to the noises around him and say 4 things he can hear out loud. “I hear birds chirping…”)
3) Touch: Ask your kid to pay attention to her body. Ask her to say what she feels out loud – “I feel the smooth surface of the table”, “I feel warm…”
2) Smell: Ask your kid to pay attention to what he can smell and say it out loud. “I smell a cake baking…”
1) Taste: Ask your kid to pay attention to the taste in her mouth and say what she can taste out loud. “I taste the apple I had for lunch…”
To wind up this mindfulness exercise, guide your child to practice another session of deep breathing exercises.
Things to keep in mind:
Don’t stress if your child is unable to name something related to his senses when carrying out the exercise. Remember that the objective of this mindfulness practice is to help him focus on the present and thus distract him from his anxiety, hyperactivity, and other difficult emotions. An alternative strategy you can try is to ask your kid to “name something you like” – for example, name your favorite taste or name some of the sounds you hear often.
The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique is one of the numerous resources I propose in The Emotions Kit. For additional tips and resources to help your kid handle strong emotions such as anger and anxiety, check it out here
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