Because of the varying levels of trauma, shock, and confusion that kids in foster care go through every day, you may find yourself dealing with a particularly anxious child every now and again throughout your time as a foster parent. Everyone processes anxiety differently – some may become depressed, and others may lash out or act out. As foster parents, these behaviors may be unfamiliar to us, and leave us unsure of how to respond.
Depending on the age of the child, talking them through their emotions and attending therapy will help. But as for everyday tips on coping and lowering anxiety levels, we will discuss a few “home remedies” and simple tools that you may find helpful in battling your child’s anxiety. These are tips that can be done practically anywhere, anytime. By teaching these simple tips to your child, you’re not only empowering them to be in control of their emotions throughout their time in foster care, but throughout their adult life as well.
Aromatherapy is a very popular tool for combating anxiety. Some scents are known to be particularly soothing and calming in the midst of chaos. Oils such as Lavender, Citrus, Peppermint, Cedar, and Ylang Ylang are known to be comforting. Try and find an oil that your child likes, so they will be more open to using them regularly. With a diffuser, you can diffuse these oils in the air to create a serene atmosphere in your home, such as at bedtime while your child is falling asleep. Alternatively, if you’re on the go, you can place a few drops in their hands and instruct them to breathe in deeply.
Secondly, the act of expression is commonly overlooked when dealing with anxiety in children. Sometimes, just moving around or doing an activity can let out pent up emotion and offer an opportunity for bonding and fun. Try purchasing a coloring book appropriate for your child’s age, and sit down and color with them the next time they feel overwhelmed. Other artistic options like child-safe paint or playdough are great as well. Praise on their creations go a long way. If the child is more energetic, encourage them to go outside and kick around a soccer ball or take the dog for a walk. Movement and fresh air can be very healing.
Lastly, place an emphasis on prayer and mindfulness in your home. When it comes to spirituality, you are your child’s biggest example. Make it part of your morning or night routine to pray together as a family, and teach them how to lean on God for strength in difficult times. Through this practice, you may see their individual relationship with God begin to grow- and that is the greatest tool they can have.