Cheer Up Anxious Children

Children around the world share anxieties, including worries prompted by natural disasters that they experience and/or learn about from 24/7 news coverage.

Teachers can help children around the world deal with their anxieties, including worries prompted by natural disasters that they experience and/or learn about from 24/7 news coverage.

Mid-Week Focus this week features quick and easy ways to cheer up anxious children.

Is it just me or have there been a frightening number of major natural disasters in a relatively short period of time around the world?

If we adults are feeling overwhelmed by the wild whims of “Mother Nature,” imagine the anxiety brewing beneath the surface if not boiling over in children!

Wise teachers look for ways to help children cope with worries.

K – 5 students can be overwhelmed by the bits of news they see or hear from 24/7 coverage of catastrophes.

Children may not fully comprehend news stories, but they surely pick up on “negative vibes!”

Teachers can help children around the world deal with their anxieties, including worries prompted by natural disasters that they experience and/or learn about from 24/7 news coverage. How?

Share Good News!

Be on the lookout for stories online, in print, wherever you find them, that offer good news.

Help children feel better about themselves and the world around them with heartwarming current events.

For example, did you hear about Bao Bao (pronounced bough bough)? Bao Bao is the new name of the female giant panda cub who was born this past August at the US National Zoo in Washington, DC.

Bao Bao means precious or treasure in Chinese. There is opportunity to teach social studies, science and other subjects when we also work to cheer up children.

Here’s a new attentionology trick that’s tailor-made to cheer up anxious children…

A smile is a frown turned upside down

A smile is a frown turned upside down!

Smiles Are Frowns Turned Upside Down!

This attentionology trick is nothing more than using a poem and a piece of bright pink cardstock (paper).

On one side of the paper in dark black marker is a half circle that forms a smile when the paper is held upright to show it.

On the other paper side in dark black marker is a half circle turned “upside down” to form a frown.

I introduce this tool/trick to my classes when students seem a bit “down in the dumps.”

A frown is a smile turned in the wrong direction!

A frown is a smile turned in the wrong direction!

Before reading the poem, An Upside Down Smile, (see below) to the kids, I explain that I recently wrote something that expresses the happiness I believe we all like to feel inside.

Depending on their grade level, I ask students if they’ve ever noticed that a frown is an upside down smile and vice versa.

Then with a little bit of improvised fanfare (a voice-simulated trumpet or drum) to catch and keep students’ attention, I hold the poem page out to one side with my left hand and I hold the bright pink page with the drawn smile and frown in my right hand so that I can easily flip the pink page.

I begin by reading the title…AN UPSIDE DOWN SMILE and then

Think about this…

A smile is frown

turned upside down;

if you don’t believe me,

try it on paper!

Make a curved line

to look like a smile, (gesture to the smile side of the pink page)

then turn the paper

upside down (flip the pink page to show the frown side)

and, sure enough,

you’ll see a frown.

Now, if a smile is a frown

turned upside down,

like a cake whose top

was on the bottom

when it baked,

then we can flip a frown

like we flip a cake,

and turn the  frown

upside down (flip the pink paper back to the smile side)

to make a smile

that needs no frosting.

Smiles, after all,

are delicious just as they are!

Children in early grades love the animation of the smiling and frowning sides of the pink paper and the rhythmic beat of the poem.

Kids in intermediate classes respond to the puzzle-like challenge of the poetic writing, the “think about this” aspect of “An Upside Down Smile.”

As always, much of the success in implementing this (and any other) tool or trick to catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention is dependent on the teacher’s delivery of it.

Share this poem with your class and see if you and the students smile more than frown that day. Happy holiday season to all who celebrate holidays now.

Please send comments about strategies you use to help children deal with anxieties, or any other topic of interest. Please also subscribe to my blog!

Look for Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers here on Monday.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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  1. […] all children – benefit from guidance we can offer, including the admission that we sometimes feel hurt, lonely or sad, […]

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Young students are getting noisy while you’re trying to teach.

Solution: Hold up "Listen Star," a toy magic wand that you’ve designated to be a cue for quiet. Tell the class, "When you see our friend, 'Listen Star' dance across the classroom sky, that’s your signal to HUSH for a moment."

Related Posts: Let "Listen Star" Work Magic for You