Helping your tween through ruminating thoughts
Tweens are particularly susceptible to ruminating thoughts. Their brains are developing in such a way that makes them largely self conscious, focused on building identity, highly emotional and hyper sensitive to family and social relationships. This combination can make simple thoughts spin out of control!
Ruminating thoughts are thought patterns that we get caught up in, stress over and obsess about. We will often mentally map out extreme situations with various outcomes. When ruminating thoughts take over we can feel fear, stress and overwhelm.
With my daughter, it’s often right before bedtime when we are winding down. The “what if’s” start. “What if I have another bad dream?”, “What if we are late tomorrow and I miss walking to school with my friend?”, “What if robbers come tonight when I’m sleeping?”. Her ruminating thoughts can take some serious time to shake so that she can relax and fall asleep. These can be tough moments. I’m usually spent by the time the kids go to bed. I’m already anticipating my own bedtime routine at this time and it can be tough to resist the urge to tell her not to worry about things that haven’t happened yet, to shut the lights and hope the thoughts don't escalate.
The good news is that there are some simple techniques that have worked for my family when a child has ruminating thoughts. This instagram post showcases a great Creative Affirmation Card that focuses on releasing rumination by encouraging creative movement. By using these strategies we are teaching kids how to recognize and manage ruminating thoughts for themselves. We are also showing them how to be in control of their mindset, even when It's difficult.
1. Distract them with an activity they like. Read, draw, watch a funny YouTube video!
2. Repeat positive affirmations to help retrain the negative thought patterns. Good ones are: "I move forward", " I am in control of my thoughts" and a personal favourite, "I am brave, I am safe and I am powerful".
3. Help your kid re-write the stories they are telling themselves with positive outcomes.
4. Encourage your child get out of their mind and into their body! Dancing, walking, jumping, stretching…movement in anyway will act as a mental reset button.