The following article has been written by Owner and Founder of Kalm Kids, Leanne Jones.
It’s not just adults who get anxious, children do too. But when they have the right strategies, they can stay calm, controlled, and believe in themselves.
It’s important to teach kids these strategies while they are growing, so they can develop into confident, capable adults who aren’t held back by anxiety.
Feelings of anxiousness in certain situations are normal and can help us avoid danger. Fear triggers our fight or flight response. Anxiety occurs when we have persistent worries about perceived threats, things that we think may happen. These worries are usually out of proportion to the actual real threat and get in the way of living your life.
I had always been someone that worried about what other people would think of me. I would wake up in the middle of the night and stress about some unknown outcome. It was affecting my life, my health, and even my relationships. I knew I needed to turn it around.
I knew I had anxiety because the threat that was causing the fear was perceived or even unknown. This type of fear triggers the same response from the body as an actual threat, such as a snake slithering across your lounge room floor. The body’s sympathetic nervous system creates a response called the fight or flight response. This may cause your heart rate and breathing rate to increase, knots in your stomach, an urge to run away, or even anger.
Childhood anxiety may present as shyness, clinginess, crying, not wanting to go to school, nervousness, refusal to talk about what is bothering them, and even anger. I realised that many of the children in my life were similar to me. Children worry daily about what others think of them. They worry about assessment and how well they are doing in comparison to another child.
The things that may cause anxiety in children are friendship, bullying, perceived pressure at school, parent separation, comparing themselves to others, and perfectionism.
I learned that the best way to stop worrying about the past, future, and what others thought of me was to be present in the here and now.
I learned that self-compassion, acceptance of what is, yoga, deep breathing, and meditation are great ways to focus the mind and be present. There is a lot of evidence that supports these practices.
It made me wonder if I could teach children the skills I learned and make a difference. I created an opportunity to test my theory that children would become calmer and less anxious if they practiced mindfulness, gratitude, and journal writing.
I created Kalm Kids because I believe childhood wellbeing needs to be a priority in our society. Knowing that children were affected the same way as I was by anxiety, I wanted to teach them skills early in life to help them manage anxiety.
So, I commenced an after-school wellbeing program, Kalm Kids.
Well, the impact was pretty instantaneous. After my first lesson, a child reported back to me and said they had used deep breathing in a stressful situation and were able to stay calm.
Another said they used the strategy of thinking positively about their unique qualities, sending good vibes into the world. The child said that the positive vibes came back because they had been playing on their own while thinking about their qualities when another child came over and wanted to play with them.
Kalm Kids is a wellbeing program designed for children aged 5 to 18 years, adults and parents. It teaches participants ways to cope with life positively and effectively. People learn ways to find love, understanding, and compassion for themselves and all living things.
Kalm Kids is a weekly program that enables children to build their confidence and cope with things in their daily lives. Kalm Kids gives children a place to discuss their worries and concerns in a nurturing and caring environment, where they are supported by their peers and coaches.
In the lessons we practice:
Kalm Kids runs for nine weeks each term, and kids can engage in as many terms as they want or need.