Anxiety is a familiar feeling that everyone experiences from time to time. It’s when you feel worried, nervous, or uneasy, usually because of stress, fear, or not knowing what will happen.
Most people can handle these feelings and keep them under control. But some kids can have a tough time with anxiety. It can become overwhelming and make daily life more challenging.
If it’s not addressed early on, it could mess up a child’s ability to sleep, eat, and concentrate. It can also make it tough for them to do well in school and enjoy time with friends.
There are plenty of activities parents and caregivers can do to help kids with anxiety. One important step is teaching them calming activities they can do when they feel anxious.
Here are some activities that can help your kids relax and manage their anxiety:
Teach your kids simple breathing exercises to calm both their body and mind. These exercises help slow their heart rate and ease physical tension, making your kids feel more relaxed and in control during their anxious moments.
Breathe in for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, and hold your breath for 4 counts. Repeat 4-5 times.
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe in slowly and deeply so your stomach rises and your chest stays still. Exhale slowly and completely.
Yoga or Stretching
Yoga and stretching can help relax the muscles and improve circulation. These activities loosen tight muscles, increase blood flow, and improve body awareness. They promote a sense of physical well-being and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety.
There are many different yoga poses and stretches that are appropriate for kids. Check out this video about calming yoga poses for kids.
Do Something Creative
Nurture creativity and provide a therapeutic outlet through art, music, or dance. Creative activities allow children to express their emotions, reduce stress, and gain a sense of accomplishment. This can improve their emotional regulation and overall mental well-being.
One activity your kids can try is Purple Ladybug’s Wax Craft Sticks, made of brightly colored yarn and wax.
These are bendable craft sticks that stick to themselves. Your kids can build them into 3D creations and lay them flat like drawings. They can focus on bending, sticking, and creating their artwork.
Listen to Calming Music
Calming music can lower cortisol levels (aka the stress hormone) and activate the relaxation response, promoting a sense of calm and reducing anxiety. Playing slow, peaceful, and instrumental music on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube can soothe stress and anxiety.
Read a Book
Engage your kids with calming and soothing books. Reading provides an escape from worry, reduces overthinking, and helps your kids focus on a different world. This can help alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.
If you don’t know where to start, Hello, Wonderful listed 12 calming mindfulness books for kids.
Draw or Color
Promote relaxation and self-expression through coloring and drawing. Engaging in creative activities can reduce anxiety by diverting focus away from worries and into the soothing process of creating art.
If you’re looking for printable ideas, we offer FREE printables for kids! You can print the entire booklet or the ones your kids love best. There are coloring pages, mazes, puzzles, activities, and more in one booklet.
Play with Play-Doh or Slime
Create a tactile and sensory experience for your kids with Play-Doh and slime. Similar to squishy stress balls, Play-Doh is a great option when it comes to easing anxiety.
Playing with the clay or slime, stretching, and squishing it can help release excess energy, express emotions, improve concentration, and ease tension.
Go For a Walk
When kids move and burn off energy, they’re less prone to experiencing intense anxiety. Walking or exercising also releases endorphins, or the “feel good” hormones that can improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Aside from that, going for a walk provides a change of environment, helping distract your kids from their worries and keeping them calm. Spending quality time with them and listening to them during the walk can also help them feel validated and supported.
Spend Time With Your Pets
Encourage your kids to cuddle with their pets. The companionship of pets can reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety. It also releases oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding and reduces stress.
Teaching your kids mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or focused breathing, can reduce anxiety by helping kids stay grounded, manage racing thoughts, and find calm amidst life’s challenges.
Encourage your kids to express their thoughts and feelings through journaling. This activity provides a healthy outlet for emotions, allowing kids to process their feelings, track their emotional progress, and build resilience by reflecting on their achievements.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Promote a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A balanced diet positively impacts mood and reduces stress by providing essential nutrients supporting physical and mental well-being.
Learn Relaxation Techniques
Teach your kids relaxation techniques, like back-to-back breathing, shoulder roll breathing, and take 5 breathing. These techniques empower children to calm themselves and manage stress effectively, promoting emotional stability and self-regulation.
Talk to a Trusted Adult
Emphasize the importance of open communication with a trusted adult. When kids express their overwhelming feelings to a trusted adult, it can provide emotional relief, guidance, and coping strategies. It fosters emotional growth and resilience.
When it comes to helping kids deal with anxiety, it’s important to understand that every child is different. Some may prefer one calming activity over another. So, be patient and understanding as they learn to relax and handle stress, even though it might take some time.
If you’re worried your child might have an anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to talk to their doctor. They can help by checking out your child’s symptoms and coming up with a plan that’s just right for them.