Updated: Jan 19, 2021
If your kid is feeling anxious about something—perhaps a test or a sick relative or an upcoming shot—guided imagery can help. It’s a technique that uses mental visualizations to give one more control and a greater sense of peace.
Pediatric psychologists at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County use guided imagery to help children and teens cope with illness and stress. They’ve created a set of free audio recordings that you can play at any time. Thinking about “good stuff,” the website explains, is “like changing the channel on your TV to something you really want to watch or turning the volume up or down in your body to a level that is more comfortable for you.”
Before beginning the visualization, have your kid close their eyes and take three to five deep belly breaths.
Some examples of the guided imagery recordings:
For pain management for young kids, listen to “The Special Cake.” Sample line: “With your next deep breath in, notice the sweet smell of the yummy frosting.”
For pain management for teens, listen to “Climbing a Ladder.” Sample line: “Let’s have a look at the first step. As you put your foot on it, you begin to remember a time when you realize that you can have control over your body.”
For anxiety, listen to “The Magic Kite.” Sample line: “All of the uncomfortable feelings or sadness or anger or pain or worry are all on the ground and you are flying away from it.”
As your kid redirects their thoughts, have them notice how their body feels—their breathing may slow and their muscles might relax. Remind them they can use guided imagery any time they need an instant mental escape.