Calm Anxiety with No-Tech Games
If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself answering the same question over and over again in an attempt to reassure your child that everything will be okay. I’ve found that new situations and experiences, changes in schedules or meeting new people can sometimes trigger anxiety that results in repetitive behavior. In my case, it was redundant questions, but this could be anything, like hair twirling, snapping, pinching . . . you get the idea.
Here are a few strategies, or “games” to play to help interrupt the behavior. These can also support transitions to new situations.
Ask your child to tell you something they see. Once they name that thing, ask them to name something they hear, feel, and smell, too. To play this game, your child will have to stop what they’re doing and pay attention to their surroundings. You can easily play this over and over again.
Ask your child a series of what’s/who’s next questions. It will get them to pause and sort facts in relationship to time, such as months and dates. My daughter loves birthdays—so I start with whichever family member’s birthday is closest and ask, “Who’s next?” For example, I may say, “Nana’s birthday is coming up, whose birthday is next?” She’ll reply that it’s hers and then I will say, “That’s exciting. Whose birthday is after yours?” And so on and so on. Make sure to switch it up: use birthdays, seasons, holidays, teachers, etc.
Similar to I Spy. This is a quick-fire run-through of the rainbow, aimed at quickly moving to an activity that requires your child to pause, do a quick assessment of their environment, and respond. Simply start with red and move through the rainbow. Ask your child to quickly name something red, then orange, and so on. Looking for something a bit more challenging? Ask your child to name three things of each color.
There are just some suggestions. If your child has a favorite “something,” adjust these games to include their interests and be sure to get their attention—and keep it.