One of my 3rd graders became somewhat of a frequent flyer in my office about a particular anxiety she was having. We weren’t able to lessen the anxiety or get rid of the worry thoughts after 2 or 3 sessions (and it wasn’t severe enough to warrant an outside referral), so I suggested that we focus on her handling or coping with the anxieties instead of trying to get rid of them. We’d practiced some coping skills the previous year for a separate issue, so after a brief review, we created some “coping cards” for her to put on her nightstand. Here’s what we came up with together:
- Think of a safe place or a place where you feel really good. To feel like you’re there, think about what you would see, taste, feel, smell, hear, and touch there. This kiddo picked a local amusement park.
- Take 6 deep breaths. To make it more fun, we added the “in through your nose, out through your mouth, slow like a turtle, blowing bubbles out” poem to help her remember what a deep breath is like.
- Think more helpful thoughts! One of this student’s problems was that she believed that feeling scared was a terrible thing. Coming up with a couple thoughts that didn’t dispute the fear but instead disputed the meaning of the fear was helpful.
A few notecards, some smelly markers, and a pipe cleaner later – and she no longer had problems with this fear!