In The Face of Anxiety: 3 Tips to Help Kids Conquer Nerves

By: Jan Eldredge

I love reading and writing about monsters and assorted scary things that go bump in the night, but when it comes to real life scenarios, I’m a genuine Chicken Little. Worries are constantly raining down on me like acorns of anxiety. I’ve been this way since I was a kid. It was always the possible outcomes of future events that would send my heart racing and my stomach clenching. The situations I worried about ran the gamut from upcoming doctor appointments and vaccines, to participating in volleyball during gym period, to reciting my multiplication tables in front of my third-grade classmates. These were all events that had yet to occur at the time, but they loomed like monsters in my consciousness.

Like so many of us, Evangeline Clement, the twelve-year-old heroine of my debut middle grade novel, Evangeline of the Bayou, is often plagued by anxious thoughts and insecurities. As a haunt huntress in training, she has lots to worry about. What monster has been following her? Will she be able to complete her training and become a real haunt huntress like her mother and grandmother before her? What if she fails? Throughout her story, Evangeline finds the courage to be far braver than I’ve ever been or ever will be, but those pesky reoccurring anxieties are something she and I definitely have in common.

Forcing down my childhood worries was not easy. But now that I’m grown up, and hopefully a bit wiser, I’ve learned a couple of methods that help my inner Chicken Little realize the sky isn’t really falling when my mind begins concocting terrifying future scenarios. Whether you or your kids need help calming worries, here are some of the tips that have helped me:

1. Focus on the here and now and not on a possible version of things to come.
 According to ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” By reminding yourself to focus on the present and concentrate on what you’re doing at the moment, instead of wallowing in a possible dark and dismal future, your anxiety level immediately goes down.

2. Make a conscious effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. 
 
Instead of focusing on how things can go wrong, think of how things could go right.

3. Practice deep breathing.
 When we’re tense, our breathing changes to shallow, upper-chest breathing. By taking a few slow, deep breaths through your nose, allowing your abdomen to fully expand, and then slowly exhaling, your adrenaline level starts to drop. Studies have shown that deep breathing can relax your muscles, lower your blood pressure, slow your heartbeats, and improve your feeling of well-being.

So the next time those acorns of anxiety start to rain down on you or your kids, remember to focus on the here and now. Think about how things could turn out right. Then follow it up with some deep breathing exercises. You’ll soon realize the sky isn’t really falling, and there’s no need to be chicken.


About the Book:

Set in the evocative Louisiana bayou and the vibrant streets of New Orleans, Evangeline’s is a tale of loyalty and determination, the powerful bonds of friendship and family, and the courage to trust your gut no matter how terrifying that might be.

About the Author:

Jan Eldredge was born and raised in Louisiana, but now lives in Celebration, Florida with her husband, three kids, and four cats.

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