Virtual Martial Arts Classes Can Help with Child Anxiety

Signs your child may be experiencing stress or anxiety about coronavirus and the related shutdown

Unfortunately, kids may not be able to recognize and articulate what they are feeling.   Alternatively, as they get older, they may not be willing to share what they are feeling with us as their parents.   Your child may be experiencing stress and anxiety that you don't even know about.
  • Physical anomalies.  Have their sleep patterns or eating habits changed?  Do they say they are feeling sick or are behaving in atypical ways?
     
  • Behavioral anomalies. All kids and teens have their "moments". However, are they exhibiting outbursts, tantrums, or meltdowns? Are they less interested in activities they typically enjoy?
     
  • Loss of independence.  Without school and other social forums, are they getting more "clingy"; are they asking you to stay with them when they would otherwise want to be on their own?  Have they verbalized concern about losing friends?
     
  • Consult with your child's martial arts instructors or coaches.  Martial Arts instructors or coaches are often a valuable "in-between" mentor.   They don't feel as authoritarian as a parent or school teacher might, yet they still command trust and respect of their students.  Check in with them. While they won't be able to notice any differences in the martial arts studio or on the practice field, they still might pick up something on a zoom class, hangout or private lesson.

The 6 simple (maybe not easy) things that you can start doing now:

  • Focus on the positive. This is important for you and them. Likely, everyone in your household has been thrown off a bit. What are the positives coming out of this situation? More time with family, more time to play, able to sleep in, getting more stuff done around the house, cool projects, gardening etc...
     
  • Check yourself.  Don't let too much of your own stress and anxiety show.  You too are likely stressed and anxious during this uncertain time; they will possibly feed off of your emotions. It's important that you find and develop ways to manage your emotional state.
     
  • Reach out. Get-togethers might not be a possibilty, but you can still communicate with family and friends. Video calls with relatives or friends can add a sense of socialization and community. You can also glean ideas from other parents on what they are doing.
     
  • Routine.  Confidence is derived from competence.  And, competence is derived from repetition.   Anxiety also comes from fear of the unknown.  Establish a regular and effective set of daily routines.  This will automatically reduce the natural stress that comes from the fear of the unknown, and give them the confidence of having a plan and knowing what to do and expect every day. This is even more important now that the implicit routine of going to school or work has been removed(Virtual Martial Arts Classes can be a big help with this.  See below, we offer classes 6 days a week)
     
  • Acknowledge their anxiety.  Say something like, "I know you're feeling a little scared about the situation, right now, but that's ok." This does two things.  First, by recognizing their feelings they will know that you are on their side.  Second, it helps them understand that feelings are a temporary condition, and they will pass.
     
  • Give everyone space.  Accept that you can't "fix it" all the time.  We're spending more time in closer quarters with family than we are accustomed to.  Just this change is a stressor.  Stepping in all the time can be agitating.  Sometimes kids and adults alike just need some time process on their own.  Plus, if you are there to reassure them all the time, kids won't develop the independence and coping skills they'll need in the future. 

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Somnath Sikdar
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Master, 6th Dan Black Belt
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