Anxiety and Control

There are so many things in life that we don’t have control over, which is often a maddening reality. Reminders about what we have control over and what we don’t can help us not only understand the reality of a situation, but it can also alleviate some of the anxiety we experience. When something is out of our control it’s scary! We can feel comforted by remembering, and then acting on the things we do have control over and working on letting go of the things we don’t.

For example, I know (although I too need a friendly reminder sometimes) that I only have control over my actions, words, ideas, values, feelings, and thoughts. I do not have control over other people, places or things. So when I make a mistake, that mistake is mine to own. Equally, when I bring joy to others that’s was a choice I made too!  We are the pilots of our own minds and actions, and we are not the pilots of anyone else’s mind or actions.

Children live in an world run by adults and sometimes feel powerless. Consequently they can fall into the trap of feeling that the actions of an adult are entirely their fault. For example, divorce, poverty, and addiction, are not a child’s fault and are not in their control. On the flip side, saying mean things to a classmate or participating in gossiping are within their control. You can see how this can be a confusing concept which is why it’s important to talk about with children!

Here is a handy diagram I created to help children understand what they do and do not have control over.

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 11.40.04 AM

The joy of learning. Together. 


Anxiety and the Five Agreements

Have you ever read Don Miguel Ruiz and Don Jose Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” and “The Fifth Agreement”? Although written for adults, the agreements are appropriate for use by children as well.

My mother in law, also an educator, gave me this compiled list of the “Five Agreements”. “The Five Agreements” are a superb way to talk to your child about how to be with other people in the world. Since much of our anxiety is triggered by interactions with others, the following “agreements” are very helpful. Let’s face it, we can all take note and try to live by these rules.

  1. Be impeccable with your word.

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

  1. Don’t take anything personally.

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the      opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

  1. Don’t make assumptions.

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

  1. Always do your best.

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

  1. Be skeptical, but learn to listen.

By being skeptical, we don’t believe every message we hear; we don’t put our faith in lies, and when our faith is not in lies, we quickly move beyond emotional drama, victimization, and the limiting belief systems our “domestication” has programmed us with.

The joy of learning. Together. 




Anxiety in Children: Calming Down

Another Tuesday, another Passionate Parent Advocate post about anxiety! Below are three more ideas to alleviate anxiety in children. You can use any of these during a bout of anxiety, but I think they’re great to build in as a preventative daily routine as well.

calm rocks

  1. If your child needs space to relax you can make calm jars easily at home. Just google “calm jars” and you’ll find a plethora of options and DIY instructions. Once you have a calm jar made you can use it in many ways! If a child is experiencing acute anxiety or frustration it can be used as a timer. For example, you can shake up the jar and give it to the child. Ask them to find a place they enjoy sitting or that they feel comfortable in. Then, ask them to watch the jar (holding it still and upright) and concentrate on the sparkles. When the sparkles have all settled at the bottom they can come back and try again!
  2. Meditation for kids and basic stretching routines. You can find a lot of information on meditation for kids and work in any stretching you like! Remember meditation does NOT have to be sitting totally still without thinking. That’s really hard for kids and adults alike so start by just sitting still for a few minutes at a time. Concentrate on the sounds around you, how your body feels in the moment, and your breathing.  Even two minutes is better then nothing! It may help to find a guided mediation that suits you.
  3. If you like essential oils diffusing them, and using something like lavender can be soothing when studying, reading, doing homework, or at bedtime. Essential oils can be very strong so talk to someone who knows a lot about them before using them for anything other than diffusing.

The joy of learning. Together. 


Anxiety in Children: Physical Actions

As promised, I have some more suggestions for what to do with children who are experiencing anxiety. Although anxiety is a mental phenomenon,  it is often expressed physically and can therefore be reduced by physical activity, or changing the physical environment.

jumping fun

  • Joyful physical activity, meaning something that gives the student confidence and is pure fun. That can be any sport, dance, gymnastics, swimming, and even just playing outside!
  • Fidgets- squishy things or clicky things that students can use while thinking or processing something that they are anxious/upset about. But for the love of your child’s teacher, please leave fidget spinners at home or use at recess only unless previously arranged with the teacher. You may also want to have a discussion with your child’s teacher about the use of a fidget in the classroom. They may have some great suggestions!
  • Weighted blankets (you can buy them online or make them if you’re crafty). They calm the body and reduce the physiological responses we have to anxiety. Often if you can calm your physical stress response the mind follows.

The joy of learning. Together. 


Anxiety in Children: Respect, Empower and Encourage



We all experience anxiety from time to time, some more than others. Children are no exception. As adults we may forget that children can have a lot to feel anxious about too! Academic performance, social situations and friendships, specific content areas in school, home life, extracurricular activities, homework, familial difficulties, poverty, hunger, and a lack of sleep are just a few things that cause anxiety for students.

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting about how parents can help their child work through periods of anxiety no matter what the trigger is.

  • Respect your child’s emotions. Their anxiety is real and very unpleasant for them. You can show them you support them by listening. To help them communicate, you can ask them to tell you what they are thinking. This may expose scary thoughts and images your child is experiencing.
  • Empower your child to solve a problem that may be making them feel anxious by asking them what they might do to handle a certain situation. Brainstorm with them!
  • Encourage your child. When they are trying to be brave or coming up with some great solutions, tell them how proud of them you are!

The joy of learning. Together.