Alternative Gifts for Your Anxious Child

Most children who struggle with anxious feelings are extremely sensitive to the overstimulating sights and sounds of the holidays. When they are continually challenged by these incredibly real feelings of panic and fear their nervous systems need a bit of a reprieve. So this year consider nurturing their mind, body and souls with gifts that allow a creative collaboration with their senses.

Gift of Sight
We often say that we wish we knew what was in our children’s heads. Why not ask them to show you what their world looks like. A camera is a great gift for an anxious child. It’s much more than a little electronic device because you make it into an experience. Have your child take you around the house, the street or around the neighbourhood and point out what’s in his/her mind’s eye. It opens up a perspective for both of you and encourages bonding in a way that you can only achieve by being together. You never know what treasures you may uncover.

Gift of Sound
This is a spectacular way to connect with your child. If the sound of your voice soothes, encourages and supports your child, make a CD for them. Not just any kind of CD – create a “You Are” CD. You intrinsically know your child’s strengths and capabilities – record yourself repeating affirmations you know will resonate with your child such as:

  • You are a ray of sunshine when  you smile.
  • You are  beautiful.
  • You are  handsome.
  • You are  very creative.

Along with the CD, you can attach a little pad of paper and pen so that they can add to the “You Are” list and repeat those as well whenever they like. By listening to the CD you give your child a very special gift. This CD is a great way to reaffirm all of the positive things about your child that they can listen to any time they desire. Not to mention the fact that the brain begins to believe these as truth and begins to change its perspective.

Gift of Touch
Have you ever noticed when your child is anxious they fiddle with things? Some anxious children feel like they need something in their hands in order to distract themselves from those worried thoughts. So why not give the gift of a special crystal or gem. Crystals and gems hold incredible energy and each carry a different (healing) property.  It becomes something that you can easily slip into a pocket or have in a desk that is easy to grab and touch and feel to help them through those anxious moments. You can either purchase one for your child or you can take them to a shop and have them pick out one that resonates with them. Gems that are energetically helpful for anxiety include Hematite, Citrine or Celestine.

Gift of Taste
Sugar tends to be in abundance around the holidays and it seems no matter where you go there are tasty treats awaiting your palette. Sugar is a known anxiety stimulant and for some can trigger panic attacks and very drastic mood swings. As hard as it is to avoid sugar, there are plenty of alternatives. So this Christmas find a few substitute ingredients that your child might want to work with and find some recipes that you can create together. It may be as simple as tweaking your old time favourite shortbread. Make it a new tradition and a gift that your child can carry forward for years to come.

Gift of Smell
We all know that our sense of smell is a very powerful thing.  Scientist long ago discovered how our brains react to simple smells. They can create calm in a state of chaos, they can quell a queasy stomach. Why not give your child the gift of aromatic scents. You don’t have to purchase a huge bottle – most stores sell little vials so you are not committed to a scent you may not one hundred percent love.  In our house we love to put a few drops around our pillows to help calm and relax us.  Here are some of the common scents that scientists have discovered have helpful effects on our nervous systems.

  • Burning frankincense reduces feelings of depression and anxiety – those mythical Christmas travelling men may have been scent-aware as well as wise.
  • Orange smells reduce anxiety.
  • Cedar smells reduce tension – and so do lavender ones (Augustin, 2009).

Christmas is about giving something special to others and these are all just a few ideas. It is my hope that by giving your child one of these gifts it will allow them to experience peace and calm not only through the holidays but all year long. Have a very happy holiday season and here’s to a prosperous and peacefully calm 2013.

Reference

Augustin, Ph.D., Sally. The Smell is Right – Using Scents to Enhance Life. Psychology Today, 23 December 2009. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/people-places-and-things/200912/the-smell-is-right-using-scents-enhance-life>.

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Darlene Wierski-Devoe, CCP About Darlene Wierski-Devoe, CCP

Darlene is a blogger at Raising Socially Anxious Children Blog, author of the illustrated children's anxiety book "Just Like You", and a certified life coach at Talk Breathe Live. She specializes in childhood mood and anxiety disorders.