Creative Child

Calming the Butterflies

by Sarah Lyons

Our child may feel “butterflies in their tummy” if they have a big event coming up such as an important test, a piano recital, or even the first day of school. It is normal to feel nervous when kids are expected to perform or speak in front of a group of people, if they have an upcoming dentist or doctor appointment, or if they have the pressure to do well on a test or at a sporting event. Many adults find themselves feeling nervous for similar events at work or in the community. Even though nerves are common, parents can help kids calm the butterflies and be successful.

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Model calming behavior

As a parent, watching our child battle nervous feelings can be difficult and may cause the parent to feel anxious and worried themselves.The child may grow more panicked because of this. Model calming behavior to your child. Speak in a calm voice, try not to rush them, and keep your chit chat positive and encouraging. 

Prepare and discuss

Prior to the big day, discuss with your child what they can expect. “We spend time talking about the event a few days before. I allow them to ask questions and understand what to expect throughout the process.” says Lauren Heller, mother of twins. This is a great opportunity to discuss with your child what their worries are specifically and help them work through them in a healthy way. Rodganna Avery, mother of three, suggests “We talk about what to expect and how to handle it. We also try to find books on the topic from the library.” 

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Relaxation techniques

If you find your child is nervous often, sit down ahead of time and discuss some relaxation techniques they think will be helpful in calming butterflies when they arise. “I taught my daughter to take slow deep breaths and to pretend she was somewhere else.” says Krystal Laws, mother of seven. Some other relaxation techniques may include stretching, reading a book, sipping a favorite drink, listening to music, or talking to a friend. Many kids find physical activity relaxing. Encourage your child to take a short walk or jog, do jumping jacks, shoot hoops, or play on the swingset. This will help your child release some nervous energy. Once your child has found a relaxation technique that works for them, they will have a tool in their back pocket when nerves arise.


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