Do you have a child who struggles with anxiety in your class? As we all know, an increasing number of children are experiencing feelings of stress and unease. And so, we have created a brand new FREE teaching resource to help! The Worry Waterfall Poster has been created to help students deal effectively with worrying thoughts.
This brilliant teaching resource is suitable to use with the whole class or for individual students. Read on to find out how to get the most out of this essential resource for kids’ wellbeing.
The Worry Waterfall
The Worry Waterfall poster encourages students to recognise worries that they can and can not control. And guides them through a step-by-step process of decision making and of taking action.
This strategy for managing anxiety is ideal for middle to upper-year students. It is perfect to introduce to the whole class, to explore in-depth and use time and time again.
Notice the Worry
The first step to dealing with worry is to notice and acknowledge it. As we know, anxiety presents itself in many different ways. And so it’s important to teach kids to be self-aware and how to become familiar with how anxiety might feel.
As a class discuss how worrying thoughts make us feel. For example, anxiety might:
- speed up our breathing
- make us feel shakey
- give us a stomach ache or butterflies in our tummy
- tense up our muscles
- make us cry or feel angry
- make us want to hide away and withdraw.
For more brilliant learning tools to encourage students to be present and pay attention to how they are feeling, head to our collection of Mindfulness Teaching Resources.
When your students have learned to recognise worrying thoughts, they can then move on to asking two key questions:
- “What am I worrying about?”
- “Is there anything I can do to make the worry go away?”
The best way to teach your students how and when to ask themselves these questions is to model how to do it! So next time you have a worry, (that’s appropriate to share), stop and ask yourself these questions out loud.
Then, when a student shares a worry with you, prompt them to refer to The Worry Waterfall Poster and ask themselves “What am I worrying about?”, and “Is there anything I can do to make the worry go away?”
Don’t forget to keep a close eye on your own teacher wellbeing! If worries are getting on top of you, read Emma’s blog World Mental Health Day | 5 Tips for Teacher Wellbeing
Let It Go Or Take Action
Now, this is the important bit… you can help a child with anxiety by encouraging them to identify worries that they can and can not control. And if nothing can be done, to try and let them go!
You can help a child with anxiety let go of worries by encouraging them to:
- record the worry on a paper aeroplane and launch it into the sky
- write the worry down on paper, scrunch it up and throw it away
- imagine the worry floating away in a balloon (or even better actually do this!)
- mix up a magical potion and write a spell to make it go away.
Make a Plan
The next step of The Worry Waterfall is to make a plan. If it turns out that there is positive action that can be taken, then it’s time to ask three important questions:
- What can I do?
- When can I do it?
- Now or later?
To help an anxious child to get started with this stage of the process, offer support by discussing a possible action plan and provide guidance.
Self-reflection plays an important part in realising that worries and feelings often pass. Encouraging self-reflection encourages students to take responsibility, to manage their emotions and develop emotional intelligence.
For essential posters and visual displays, to encourage self-reflection, head to our collection of Reflection Teaching Resources.
We hope that this resource reaches teachers and students far and wide. And that it helps anxious children deal effectively with worrying thoughts. For more helpful tips and teaching resources to support students transition back to school after a break, read my blog Back to School Poem | Reduce Anxiety in Children.
If a child in your class is experiencing severe anxiety be sure to consult with your school counsellor or seek advice from a senior member of staff.