Last Modified: January 23, 2024 | Published: January 19, 2024
Anxiety and overwhelming feelings feel awful for children. In this post, you will find eleven strategies that can reduce your child’s anxiety symptoms and reduce stress after stressful events.
Practice these calming activities daily for the best results.
Here Are Twelve Ways Your Child Can Reduce Anxiety Symptoms in the Moment:
1. Stuffed animal breathing
With your child, practice deep belly breaths. A great way to do this is with a stuffed animal. Lie down and place a stuffed animal on your child’s belly and see if they can get their breath to lift up the stuffed animal. Go nice and slow
2. Bubble breathing
With your child, take a slow breath into your belly and breathe out slowly into a bubble wand. Have a competition to see who can make the most giant bubble. Practicing breathing exercises before a stressful event can help your child use this strategy when they need it most.
3. Draw your worry into a worry monster
Have your child draw out their worry into a monster – a worry monster. Next, have your child tear up the worry monster and say no more
4. Visualize a favorite place:
Have your child close their eyes and tell you about their favorite happy place, real or imagined. Ask them to describe what they see and how the place feels and smells
5. Play Eye Spy
Have your child pick an object in the room to pay attention to and describe the object while you guess what your child has spotted
6. Go for a walk together
With your child, go for a walk; exercise is the number one way to reduce anxiety. While you are on your walk, notice what is in your environment, such as the coloring of a tree or house
7. Squeeze your hands together and release
Have your child squeeze their hands together as hard as they can and then have them release and shake it out
8. Feel your feet on the floor
Ask your child to feel their feet on the floor or in their shoes. How does it feel? Soft, hard, cold, smooth? Use as many details as possible to describe the sensations. This grounding technique can bring your child back to the moment. Search for ‘feel your feet’ in the app for a how-to video on this strategy.
9. Drink a healthy drink
With your child, drink a warm cup of herbal tea or another healthy drink, notice how it smells, pay attention to the flavor, and have your child describe the drink to you
10. Worry trash can
With your child, create a trash can just for worries. When your child is worried, have them write or draw their worry on paper. Then take it, crumple it up, and throw it in the worry can
11. Progressive muscle relaxation:
With your child, have your child gently squeeze a muscle group, such as wrinkling their face. Next, have your child relax that muscle group. Go through each muscle group in the body, gently squeezing and releasing while taking deep breaths.
12. Play calming music
With your child, play soothing music. Share with your child when they have worried thoughts to put their attention back on the music.
Just like when your child learned to read, they didn’t start out reading chapter books. It took practice and time. The same goes for practicing anxiety-reducing strategies. Have these strategies be something your child uses in everyday life during life challenges and intense emotions.
With more practice, these coping strategies will work better and get easier, and your child will feel more confident in reducing their anxiety.
Parent and child practicing taking deep breaths.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an alarm that is supposed to go off in our bodies when danger is present. Our body gears up for this present danger by focusing our mind and nervous system on the threat. Our body’s warning system is excellent.
Let us pretend there is a fire. You don’t want to stand around wondering what to do next. You want to get yourself to safety.
This body warning system cues our muscular system, and our muscles get a burst of energy. In the face of this perceived danger, our digestion shuts down, and we are mobilized to run away to protect ourselves.
The problem is sometimes the danger is something that *might* happen in the future, or worse yet, a false alarm. These false alarms can lead to an increase in anxious thoughts, negative emotions, fear, and nervousness.
When this response to a perceived threat happens, our body is in a state of high alert. Unfortunately, when the threat passes or never comes, the body is still overwhelmed with energy and mobilized for action. Those body sensations do not instantly disappear.
When this happens because anxiety is physical in the body, it doesn’t work to tell yourself or your kid not to worry. You need to use a strategy to calm your mind and body down.
Teaching your child mindfulness, calming activities, healthy coping skills, and strategies is a great way to help your anxious child.