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We live in a scary world, and sadly, our grandkids seem to quickly pick up on this and feel anxious over things going on in their lives and around the world. To make matters worse, some kids are predisposed to worrying, worsening their anxiety.
What is a grandma to do? How can we help our grandkids worry less?
Thankfully, there are ways to do this, beginning with these 12 easy and thoughtful ways to help your anxious grandchild:
1. Create a safe space
Dedicate a cozy corner in your home just for your grandbabies and fill it with comforting items like plush toys, blankets, and their favorite books. They can retreat to this quiet and soothing haven whenever they feel overwhelmed. (If you can, encourage their parents to create a similar space in their room or another part of their home.)
2. Art therapy
It’s time to break out the paints and colors, as art can be an excellent way for kids to express their emotions. Bonus? Art is therapeutic and can help your grandchild calm down.
3. Calming techniques
Teach your grands simple breathing exercises or meditation techniques that you use. Do none come to mind? No problem, as breathing techniques can be as straightforward as counting to ten or taking deep, slow breaths together. Try it – don’t you feel better already?
4. Unplug together
The news and social media can be anxiety-inducing. (I’m a grown woman and get stressed out, so I can only imagine how our youth feel!) Designate specific times when you both switch off electronic devices and engage in good old-fashioned play or chat. I know a few games you can play…
5. Nature walks
Something is healing about being outdoors. Do you agree? Go on nature walks, visit a local park, or sit outside and observe the world together, as the fresh air and change of environment can be a distraction from everyone’s anxieties.
6. Listen actively
Sometimes, your grands may need someone to vent to, so listen to their worries without immediately offering solutions. Once they have finished sharing, you can validate their feelings so they know they’re heard.
7. Establish a routine
Kids often find comfort in predictability, which is why habits are so important! While grandma’s house is often a place of no rules, you can still set somewhat of a schedule to ensure they stay grounded and reassured.
8. Read together
Numerous children’s books address feelings and worries (which can be especially helpful when your grandchild is young). Why not sit down and read one together? Doing this allows you to open up a dialogue and provide your grandchild with invaluable coping tools.
9. Use positive affirmations
Teach your grands a few positive affirmations or mantras, a la “I am brave” or “I can handle this.” These seemingly simple sentences can help shift your grandchild’s focus from anxiety to empowerment.
10. DIY worry stones
Craft worry stones together. Are you unfamiliar with this concept? Then, you will want to become acquainted, as these smooth, flat stones can be held and rubbed when you feel anxious, providing a tactile way to self-soothe.
11. Offer distractions
Sometimes, the best way to combat anxiety is to get their mind off it. To do this, you can engage in an activity they love, whether it’s baking, crafting, or playing a game.
12. Seek professional help
If you notice that their anxiety is hindering their daily life, it might be worth considering professional counseling or therapy. (Before looking too much into it, however, be sure to discuss it with their parents or guardians!)
Remember, every grandchild is different, and what works for one might not necessarily work for another. The most important thing is to be there for them, providing a listening ear, a comforting hug, and a safe space to navigate their feelings. You’ve got this, grandma!