The goal with Distracting is to help children switch their focus from some worry or concern to something more pleasant and calming.
You can use modeling, like “When I’m feeling worried, I think about my favorite things.” You can also prompt the child, “Let’s think about something you love. How about ….?”
I’ve taught children to think about their favorite Pokemon, their pet, a favorite person or anything/anyone who makes them feel happy. I recall one boy who became agitated because he saw some Pokemon stickers and couldn’t get them out of his mind. Pokemon was his favorite thing in the world. He got more and more agitated. He kept saying how Pokemon was all he could think about. He couldn’t do anything else. I sat calmly with him and told him how sometimes thinking about my dog made my brain feel calmer. I knew he also had a dog he adored. He stopped and started thinking about his dog. He soon forgot about Pokemon.
Mischel, famous for the marshmallow test, found that some children were effective in waiting for their treats. He noticed that some thought other something else. They might distract themselves by imagining the marshmallows were fluffy clouds. These were the children who showed stronger self-regulation.
Introduce the idea of thinking about a favorite thing. Make a thought bubble with a picture, drawing or photo of the child’s favorite thing. Practice looking at and thinking about the favorite thing and making your brain calm. Combine this with Turtle Breathing to enhance the effect. Then when you see them becoming upset, remind them to think of the favorite thing.
Watch this video (it’s 41 seconds of a video by Bianca Giaever that will download) to see how one child helped distract herself. She decided that scary things were afraid of the things she liked. So, when she thought about her favorite things, the scary things disappeared.