Calming an Anxious Child: Proven Drug-Free Stress Reduction Techniques

For some children, a seemingly small worry may develop into a full-blown, unmanageable fear. Very often, much of what a child is actually afraid of may simply be caused by a vivid imagination rather than based on reality. Mothers, fathers and caregivers may frequently be called upon to reduce fears and anxiety about scary things in a dark closet or under the bed, crawly bugs, thunder storms or even furry animals. Other children and teens may be plagued with fears about learning abilities and performance, testing and exam scores, and, more than ever before, issues related to peers and social pressure.

Calming and reassuring children who are overwhelmed with stress and fear can be a challenging situation for anyone. Sleep problems, eating issues, anger and frustration can create even more concerns and difficulties. Without developing helpful coping skills, anxious children may become anxious teens. The National Institute of Mental Health studies indicate that approximately 30 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys in the U.S., or more than 6.3 million teens, have had a reported anxiety disorder. Many others may be undiagnosed because they have not even sought help for those issues.

 Complementary Approaches to Calm an Anxious Child

Parents struggling to find a way to comfort their children during these trying times may be relieved to learn about a newly available stress reduction program. It includes complementary, natural approaches that have been shown to help children feel more at peace, safe and relaxed using specific hypnotherapy techniques, breathing exercises and visualization methods.

Therapeutic hypnosis is widely recognized by scientists and researchers as a safe, natural and enjoyable state of deep physical and emotional relaxation. Hypnosis is seen in a variety of fields including medicine, dentistry, law enforcement, professional sports and self-improvement as well as education. It is a well-established fact that hypnosis can be used as a beneficial tool for fear, stress and anxiety reduction as well as helping to alleviate negative thoughts, feelings, emotions and beliefs.

U.K.-based clinical hypnotherapist Sheila Granger developed a pioneering educational performance children’s stress reduction program that has been successfully utilized in schools and private practices in Europe and worldwide. The Calm Kids, Stress-Less program is now being implemented in Stamford. The program is designed specifically for children as young as age 5 to help young people learn to feel more relaxed and cope with stressful experiences in as few as three short sessions.

Calm Kids and Stress-Less Solutions

 Despite their young age, children and teenagers face all types of stressors in modern society. The hypnosis methods used help children by changing the way they think and provide strategies to manage challenging situations. The program includes breathing exercises encouraging children to inhale positive thoughts and exhale negative ones linked to emotions like uncertainty and anger. Visualization is also part of the program. It encourages children to focus on colors they associate with positive things, or imagine writing their worries on stones and throwing them into a lake.

The techniques utilized in this program are not dissimilar to mindfulness, but with an emphasis on relaxation, self-awareness, and promoting a feeling of peace and calmness in body and mind. They are simple enough for children as young as five to comprehend and use. The focus is on teaching clients of all ages how to use mind-management techniques to help the mind relax, reduce anxiety and focus on what can be achieved rather than what cannot be accomplished. It helps turn negative thoughts into positive ones and manage stress now and in the years to come.

The practical and simple techniques can be explored during the personal one-on-one sessions between the hypnotist and child, who is then able to practice using them at home or at school. Hypnosis can help to quiet the discouraging and often damaging inner voice and help to build confidence and strengthen mental images of success and the positive feelings associated with it.

These days children’s mental health issues is a subject we are sadly reading about or hearing reported in the news more frequently. This hypnotherapy approach is not a solution for serious mental health problems, which should involve the relevant children and adolescent mental health services. However, it may help prevent low-level anxieties from escalating into higher-level mental health issues in the future.

Diane Bahr-Groth, CH, TFT-Adv, director of Mind-Body Transformation Hypnosis Center in Stamford, has more than 26 years of experience in mind -body therapy. She is a registered consulting hypnotist, certified by and a member of the National Guild of Hypnotists and certified in the Virtual Gastric Band Hypnosis Program, Thought Field Therapy and more. Connect at 203-595-0110 or MindBodyTransformation.com.