Live Calm Kids is a new group that teaches children the skills to manage worry and stress.

Live Calm Kids is a new group that teaches children the skills to manage worry and stress.

Teaching kids to manage stress

Live Calm Kids is a group for children facilitated by counsellor Susan Guttridge along with yoga instructor Lisa Dumas

Everyone struggles at times with focusing, being patient and managing emotions. We all have aspects of our lives that we find challenging, and sometimes we struggle with being the best versions of ourselves. Yet, what if we had learned at a young age how to create space between the input of an experience and the output of our reactions? Learning how, in that space, to process the experience, the physiological sensations and the emotions it evokes? What would life be like for you?

These are the exact motivations for the Live Calm Kids group: combining powerful emotion and anxiety management techniques with playful yoga-inspired movements, to assist children in developing a “toolkit” of skills for handling the stresses life throws at them.

There are a lot of demands on children these days. Equally so, there are a lot of demands on parents and families in general. Many of us live a fast-paced lifestyle that contradicts the curious nature of children. Everything is new to children and their experience of the world is vastly different from that of an adult. Many children struggle with the impacts of stress, yet have little capacity to make meaningful changes to the things that cause them stress.

Children more than ever are chronically exhausted, which can lead to feelings of being emotionally overwhelmed.

Even when children have adequate sleep, sensory overload can bring on feelings of exhaustion. The high amount of stimuli bombarding children at all times can become overwhelming for their nervous system, causing them to feel like they are “always on.”

Children may not have the words to vocalize how they are feeling. We see stress and anxiety in their behaviour (clinging to a parent or struggles with separations, being stubborn, whining or crying, aggression), in their emotions (sadness, tears, anger), and in their physical health (such as stomach aches and headaches when no physical illness is present, changes in eating patterns or appetite, sleep disturbances and nightmares).

Stress and worry can impact the way a child interacts with and views the world.

I believe that children and youth benefit greatly when they are provided with opportunities to learn the skills for handling their strong emotions rather than feeling overwhelmed by emotion. The Live Calm Kids group combines counselling strategies and yoga-inspired movements, focusing on strengthening children’s capacity for present moment awareness and self-regulation, while increasing connection to self and others. Each group session provides playful opportunities for children to learn the strategies in a supportive and compassionate environment. The group is designed for children of various ages, with the most recent one being for kids aged five to seven. I am very excited to co-facilitate the Live Calm Kids group with Arise yoga instructor Lisa Dumas, who brings a gentle yet passionate energy in her role as teacher, seeing the strengths in her students in a way that inspires and fosters growth.

Research has demonstrated the necessity for parents to be tuned in to their children (connected to their child’s emotions, symptoms, concerns, and is responsive to his or her bids for attention). When parents are tuned in, they are able to create an environment where the child undoubtedly knows that she is loved and accepted regardless of her behaviour. The tuned in parent is able to create a foundation of safety and emotional stability that gives their child a much greater sense of resiliency. Because of this, Live Calm Kids fosters a parent component: providing resources to parents after each session as well as a one-to-one follow-up session to best assist parents in helping their child maintain his or her learning in the group.

The group runs four Saturdays, beginning April 11, from 11 a.m. to noon at Arise Yoga. Please call 250-938-5580 for more information or to reserve your child’s spot.

Susan Guttridge, BA, MC, is a Canadian Certified Counselor at Live Happy Counselling Services in Vernon

 

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