Top Ten Skills Your Child Can Use to Reduce Their 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 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. 

When this response to a perceived threat happens, our body is in a state of high alert. Unfortunately, when the threat passes by 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 just not to worry. You need to use a strategy to calm your mind and body down. 

Here are ten ways your child can reduce anxiety 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 
  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 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
  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

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.

With more practice, the strategies will work better, get easier, and your child will feel more confident in reducing their own anxiety. 

Would you like to learn greater tools for helping your child manage anxiety? Check out Cadey’s course on Children and Anxiety.