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Coronavirus fears can heighten children's anxiety, so a Newbury teacher has suggested some calming techniques

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Some ideas to help create a quieter, calmer mental space

MANY young children may be feeling anxious about the coronavirus and the effect it might have on their way of life and on their family.

Your children may have concerns about much-loved grandparents or why they might not be able to go to school and see their friends. We asked primary school teacher Amanda Bailey for some general techniques to help parents calm their children's worries.

"I have been increasingly aware over the past, fast-moving week that the situation is changing almost hourly and everyone's circumstances are specific to them, making it, I believe, impossible to provide generic answers to questions a child - or anyone - may pose.

"We all have up to 60,000 thoughts a day, some are wispy and fleeting, others are more forceful, demanding our attention. At the moment you may find your child is more heightened or anxious. Here are some ideas to help create a quieter, calmer mental space."

Use the breath: Lying or seated, relax the face and close the eyes. Take a moment to settle, feeling the body relax, letting the breath calmly come and go. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose. Place one hand on the belly, feeling it inflating. Exhale freely from the nose, like a balloon deflating, without force or pressure. Repeat five times.

Fill the senses: Any sensory input will help reduce adrenalin levels and increase calmness and relaxation. Provide sensory toys like fidget cubes and spinners, squishies, shimmies, oil and water timers, tangles, sensory balls, slime or modelling clay. Play games, enjoy art and craft activities, colouring books, jigsaws and construction toys. Scoot, walk, run, climb and bounce in nature.

Visualisation: Use soothing mental pictures to relax and calm the mind. As you breathe calmly, letting the breath come and go, imagine: the colours of the sky in a beautiful sunset, the sound of water flowing in a stream, the taste of your favourite food, the smell of your favourite bubble bath. Play a DVD of a really positive event you have experienced in your head, using all your senses, making the memory come to life.

If a situation is causing you to worry, imagine attaching the thought to a balloon, which you are holding with a piece of string – imagine picking up a giant pair of scissors and cutting the string, watch the balloon/thought drift away out of sight. Alternatively, imagine putting your thought onto a leaf, placing it into a gently flowing stream and watch it float away into the distance.

Use positive words: Positive words and thoughts provide healthy nutrition to the mind helping build confidence, courage and resilience. Choose a positive mood as your 'go to' mood of the day – Today I will be responsible, patient, smiling, positive, helpful, safe, calm. Notice when you show that mood and use it to inspire and give support when needed.

Acknowledge and talk about feelings: Recognise that all feelings come and go. If your child is experiencing a difficult emotion, attune, without judgement: 'I can see you're feeling worried'. Later on, when your child is fully calm and as appropriate discuss and consider helpful beliefs and behaviours.

Although challenging, times of adversity provide an opportunity for our children to grow and strengthen. The world around is always changing and unpredictable, we can never control other people or events. Through our modelling, children learn that they can choose how to respond, making positive, optimistic and kind choices, creating powerful thoughts and making informed decisions.

Amanda Bailey is based in Wash Common and offers a number of bespoke and group courses to help children, young people and adults learn techniques to reduce heightened levels of anxiety, alongside activities to facilitate social, emotional and cognitive development - check her website www.beberkshire.co.uk for more information.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the current concerns over coronavirus, courses may be cancelled, however please feel free to get in touch for advice or to express interest in future courses Amanda will be happy to help.

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