Calming Movements Anxious Kids Can Do Anywhere by @EricaHornthal

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It’s human nature to tell our squirmy, fidgety kids to “sit still” or “stop jumping around”. However, when children have a tendency to move, shift and wiggle, it could be the physical result of some natural anxiety in your child and sitting still could only make it worse.

Calming Movements to Help Anxious Kids

Here are 4 ways to calm your child’s nerves through intentional body movements that can be done anywhere—in the car, in the classroom or at home:

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Encourage your child to do a “body scan.”  This means having them gently and intentionally move as many parts of the body they can identify, one at a time, from head to toe.

Doing this allows the child to focus on specific physical movements rather than the thoughts that might be causing him anxiety.

Externalize Feelings

Allow your child to externalize her anxiety by asking specific questions. For example, “What does it look like to feel scared?” Have her show you physically how she is feeling emotionally so she releases some of her inner tension.

Feel the Beat

Help your child move out of his anxiety by creating a beat. Ask him to create a rhythm with his feet by tapping his toes or stomping his feet to match the intensity of his feelings. Have your child slow the tapping/stomping until the movement comes to stop. This repetitive, intentional release can do wonders to help calm a chronic worrier.

Deep Breathing

Finally (and you can do this one together!), take 3 deep, cleansing breaths in through the nose out through the mouth. Lift your arms up while you breath in and lower them as your breath out. Visualize a colorful ribbon of air on each inhale and exhale. It’s amazing how this simple movement can transform an anxious mood and improve focus and clarity.

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About Author

Erica Hornthal, CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy, is a licensed clinical professional counselor and board certified dance therapist. She received her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago and her BS in psychology from University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Erica supports individuals’ growth and change by encouraging them to resource their own body-mind connection to express their inner desires, wants, and needs. Erica’s work has been highlighted in Social Work Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, as well as on Fox, CBS, WCIU and WGN.

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