Tips to help Anxious Kids Reframe Their Day: Seeing the Green

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Red can be an anxious kid. I’ve written about this before, in this post. He has an amazing imagination, but that leads to him to consider all kinds of scenarios, and his brain often takes him to the worst possibilities. If something disappointing happens at school or at the end of the day, he will focus on that and say it’s been a ‘terrible day’. Recently we’ve been working on a clever trick to help shift his mindset from negative to more positive. I wish I could remember where on the internet I read about this, I have searched and searched and can’t find it! We watched a video that showed how to shift your mindset and he really connected with it and we use this exercise often now. If anyone recognizes it and can point me to the source so I can credit it, please let me know in the comments!

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First, he had to look around the room and point out all the blue things he could see.  We did this for a minute or two, really looking out even small things that had blue in them.  The first time you do this exercise in particular, really work on bringing out all the blue things, make a number of different passes around the room and pick up new blue things each time. Then, ask your kid to close their eyes, keep them closed, and list all the green things in the room. They can’t. They might be able to give you one or two if there are some really large and obvious green things, but the list will be nowhere near as long as it was for items colored blue. The reason is simple. When they were listing blue things, their focus was on everything blue. After they’ve tried hard and given up listing everything green they can remember, ask them to open their eyes and look around. They will be amazed at all the green they can see.

When Red and I did this the first few times, I would explain to him that those green things are always there, and isn’t it wonderful to start to spot them now.  We then compare this to seeing the negative or positive things that happened in the day.  Almost without exception, every day will have a list of both negative and positive things that occurred.  Just as, in any room, there will be a variety of blue and green things.  It is up to us to decide how we see our day.  Is it a glass half full kind of day, or glass half empty?  Is it a blue day or a green day?

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I don’t suggest that he only think about the green things because that would be silly. Every day is made up of a mixture, there can never be a purely positive day. Just as there can never be an only negative day.  Now when Red starts to list off all the bad things that have happened, I only need to say, ‘oh, that’s a lot of blue things.  Shall we look for the green?’ Then I help him list what good things have happened in the day.  It doesn’t take away his disappointment or anxiety about the negative things, and I wouldn’t want to do that. But I hope it provides some balance so that he can see that his day might not have been so bad after all.

Do you have an anxious kid? Any other tips to share? I’d love if you could let me know in the comments.

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