In one of my kids’ yoga classes this week, a child mentioned getting nervous about meeting new people and eventually choosing to stick to current friends only. The theme for the class was ‘Visiting a Farm’, and we flowed through yoga poses and games, ending in relaxation. As usual, I did a guided visualization for them; this time talking about seeds. They got to pick which kind of seed they were.
After we got up from our mats, we sat down to hear each other’s experiences, if they decided to share. One boy said he chose guava. Seeing the opportunity, I jumped in and commented how much I enjoy eating a tasty sweet guava, and asked if they all had ever tasted it. The child who had mentioned his anxiety said yes, and so I took the opportunity to compare guava to new friends. I added, “Just like guava – bright green and irregular on the outside, pink or white colored and sweet on the inside – some people may look different from us, but maybe we will find they are very sweet to us on the inside. Sometimes when we get to know them better we end up building great new friendships!” A girl continued, “And they may have a really big and good heart on the inside!” Another boy added, “Different inside just like a watermelon!”
Even though we might not be with this kid when new friends show up, we have planted a seed, and he may try to “open the guava” next time, remembering what we – the yoga instructor and peers – shared about making new friends. It is normal for kids to have anxiety and fears; and it is great when they find out ways to deal with those. My best way to help with that is by having them get in touch with their bodies through yoga, get to know their feelings and be able to handle them in ways that will serve them well, and also the community in a bigger scale.
If you want to read more about ideas to help kids deal with anxiety and fears, a parenting group suggested this link: http://m.kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/anxiety.html