General Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety
Adjusting to a sudden or unexpected change or knowing that an unpleasant activity is next often poses a challenge for some children with special needs. Here are some strategies to keep in mind:
- Make an effort to cut down on activities when you see signs of stress in a child’s behaviour. Allow each child to go at her own pace.
- Teach a child tricks for calming herself, such as taking deep breaths, thinking of a quiet place, counting to ten, etc.
- Plan plenty of time for play. Inform the child when there will be transitions or changes in the child care curriculum. For example, provide a visual cue like turning the lights off to indicate that a change is coming and say, “Two more minutes, then circle time”.
- Give a child a special toy for comfort or allow her to bring one from home.
- Teach the child to recognize which situations or events are stress-inducing and how to manage her anxieties.
- Use visual aides to help describe the upcoming events, or strategies that a child may use to deal with her anxiety (e.g., storybooks, personalized social stories, daily schedule).