Many young children experience anxiety over common things at school. It is important to teach children about those feelings rather than tell them not to have them. When we say, “Don’t worry”, it indirectly sends a message to the child that the feelings they are experienceing are wrong. When we acknowledge them and talk about them, we are able to normalize a certain amount of anxiety and we are able to empower children to regulate their own emotions. However, when children experience frequent anxiety or intense anxiety, it is helpful to try to put it into terms of something more concrete. I have found by talking about anxiety provoking situations as problems and a child’s reactions as feelings, we can use a, “What size is the problem” and “What size is the feeling” approach to decrease the reaction’s intensity. This social story looks at several emotions and goes into age-appropriate depth of what anxiety feels like in the body (more concrete). We look at some common causes of anxiety in young children at school. Size of the problem and size of the feeling (reaction) are defined and many examples are given. Problems at school are defined as little. Finally it is explained that the size of the problem must match the size of the feeling. Because we have little problems at school, we have only little feelings at school. Just like learning to read and write, we have to learn how to match size of problem with size of feeling. It takes practice, practice and more practice and you can start with the practice pages at the end of this lesson! This social story should be read several times for best comprehension.
Another great lesson on this topic is Intro to Anxiety for Young Learners with Paw Patrol ; Emotional Regulation