Autism Resource Blog

Posted by Cami Daligand on

Information and Awareness 

Here is a very helpful article I came across. I really enjoyed it and learnt a trick or two!!!!

10 ways to help calm an anxious child

By Erin Layba (Ph.D) and Author of "Joyful Parenting".

1. Stimulate the Vagus Nerve

This is located on either side of the voice box. Research has shown that by stimulating this nerve it helps with calming as it interrupts the fight or flight response (which can last anywhere between 20-60 minutes).

Ways to do this:

•chewing gum

•singing or humming

•breathing slowly

•eat dark chocolate (parasympathetic regulator)

•gargle water

2. Breathe

Encourage slow deep breathes from the abdomen or diaphragm. Blowing bubbles or activities which involve blowing also work ie blowing a whistle. Breathing in for 3 counts and breathing out for 3 counts.

3. Cross the Midline

This apparently helps reset the brain as both hemispheres are activated and work together. Therefore you are thinking with logic and emotion.

Exercises include:

•cross marches


•wipe a table with one hand

•walk in a figure of 8

4. Heavy Work.

This includes any activities that provide input to the muscles and joints such a push-ups and carrying something heavy.

5. Name it

Encourage your child to talk about what is making them anxious or create a story about it.They will be using their left brain and may feel more in control.

6. Narrow Focus

Research has shown that if you focus on one thing it helps with relaxation *(after reading this I thought:" kind of like meditation"). Getting your child's attention on one topic or item and try to encourage them to focus on it will not only create that concentration but will also take their mind of the cause of anxiety.

7.Make a Plan (MAP) or My Anxiety Plan (MAP)

Help them develop a game plan to assist in tolerating the source of anxiety. *(in my opinion this is a great idea as it is better than avoidance and provides a way of coping with the situation).The example used in the article was a child that is scared of Thunder: make them a bead necklace and called it "thunder beads"and shake it when there is thunder. 

8.Use Humor 

We all know laughter is the best medicine so try make them laugh by telling funny stories or a joke. *(I think this works for adults too;)).

9.Use a Ritual: before/during/after

*This one in my opinion is good advice but to exercise caution. I've always thought "do whatever works best for you and your child" but when it comes to rituals nobody wants a maladaptive one that may be negative in the long run especially if a child becomes too dependent on the ritual. To prevent that one can start to weane a child of a ritual and introduce new ones regularly so that dependance on one does not occur. Would love to hear other individual's thoughts on this and maybe some rituals they have used that have worked in the comment section below.


Discuss and look back on what was cause the anxiety in the first place. This is also helpful in terms of future experiences.

For the full article got to:

Daily Visual Aids


Positive Messages and Memes

Helpful contacts

Support/information/education and consultations:

1. Nthutuko Bophela:

2. Cami Daligand:

3. Kidstart Junior Academy:

If anyone would like to add contacts or organizations they have found helpful, please let us know and we will add them. 

1 comment

  • Very helpful. I used the chocolate one tonight actually.

    Daniel Bloom on

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