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Inside: 73 powerful tips you can use to calm an anxious child. We’ve also listed book and journal recommendations, included free printables, and included our famous anxiety workbook for kids.
As a parent of an anxious child, you likely feel helpless.
I get it.
No matter what you do, how much effort you put forth, how much love you give…NOTHING seems to soothe your child.
You can’t seem to squash those pesky worries that your little one feels.
I’m here to tell you that there ARE strategies you can use, strategies that won’t make you feel like your spinning on a hamster wheel going nowhere but crazy. Strategies that don’t even take weeks of intensive counseling.
Strategies that are suitable for ALL ages.
Instead of feel helpless, use these 73 techniques to calm an anxious child.
(** Your kids will thank you. **)
If you’d like an introduction to what anxiety is, how it manifests in our kid’s bodies and what behaviors present as anxiety, then jump here to our Ultimate Guide to Understanding (and Helping) Anxiety in Children. This EPIC guide will start you off on the right foot.
Let’s get to it, 73 (YES 73) powerful ways to help your child cope with anxiety.
73 Powerful Tips to Calm an Anxious Child
Get Creative to Calm An Anxious Child
1. Write it out. Then throw it out.
Studies have found that by people actually writing their worries down, then throwing out the paper their worries were written helped them to discard the distressing mental thought.
Next time your child feels anxious, have them write their thoughts on paper and then throw it out.
Researchers at Harvard found that journaling about a stressful event for 15 minutes for 4 consecutive days can lessen the anxiety you feel.
Don’t be surprised if initially your kiddo feels more anxiety, but be rest assured, this popular cognitive therapy works wonders at helping confront the situation and thoughts around it. It will help to calm an anxious child.
I recommend The Big Life Journal for Kids. It’s an awesome journal for teaching a growth mindset. (And if you haven’t checked out their website, you’ve just got to. Sign up for their emails and every Friday you will get FREE growth mindset printables)
Journaling helps adults too!
Meet your new bestie! A three-month guided Worry Journal that will take you on a transformational journey.
3. Schedule worry time.
This one makes me smile.
But, it’s really not that silly:
Carve out some time in your schedule to worry.
Have you ever heard the saying, “I can’t think about that now, I’ll think about that tomorrow”?
Well, this phrase is relevant for kids too.
I’d suggest setting aside 10 minutes per day for you and your kiddos to worry.
Try to keep things consistent and choose the same time and place for your worries. Make sure you have your journal handy.
When your allotted worry time is up, say good-bye to the worry, drop the journal and worries in your box and carry on with your day.
4. Write a letter to yourself or your teacher or parents.
When I asked my son to write a letter to his taekwondo teacher here is what he said, “There are too many kids at taekwondo and I feel scared and miss my mommy and daddy.”
Writing a letter can really get to the heart of the matter without you trying to pry information out of a young child who maybe doesn’t even really know what the problem is, or why they feel upset.
The bottom line?
This is a wonderful technique for any kid to express their feelings.
5. Write a letter to your best friend
Write this letter as if you weren’t the one feeling stress or worry but instead you are trying to help your friend solve a problem.
From this view, your child can examine the worrisome situation objectively, and this will help comfort them and enable them to see the problem from a new perspective.
6. Name your worry, then talk to it.
Don’t worry we won’t check you into the psychiatric facility. This is a popular technique to personalize your worry.
Giving worry a name allows our child to feel like they have some control. It gives a face and a name to a powerful, invisible force within them.
You can even have your child talk to their worry, they might say something along the lines of: “Beat it Mr. Worry Bully, there is no room for you here!”
This worksheet and 80 more are included in our famous Anxiety Kit for Kids.
7. Teach kids the physical symptoms of anxiety.
We often think worry is only mental, but it often manifests into physical symptoms.
You’ve likely heard about “fight” or “flight” hormones?
These are stress hormones that are produced when our bodies are prepared to fight or run from danger. Our heart rate increases, our breathing changes, we can experience nausea, headaches, and/or sweaty palms.
All of these symptoms can feel pretty scary, but by learning that it’s normal, and it will pass, your kiddo will immediately feel calmer the next time anxiety strikes.
Meet your new parenting bestie! Our fun and accessible Anxiety Kit for Kids. Anxiety and chronic worry can take a hefty toll both physically and mentally. Teaching kids how to deal with these stressors early will set them up for a lifetime of happiness and success. This workbook will help you do just that.
If you want to teach your kids to master their worries, feel more positive about themselves and their lives, and interact more calmly and confidently with others, The Anxiety Kit for Kids is a must-have!
8. Learn your kiddo’s anxiety triggers.
Anxiety creeps up on all of us in different ways. What bothers one kid, might not bother another.
There is no one size fits all for anxiety.
Fill out the anxiety checklist included in our Anxiety Kit for Kids and learn what your kiddo’s triggers are. Then, ensure your child understands their triggers so they can keep an eye out for those nagging feelings.
9. Teach that ALL kids experience worry.
It’s normal. And it can even help us in some situations. Anxiety is around to protect us from danger.
When kids don’t feel so terribly alone like a single star on a starless night they immediately feel less anxious.
10. Thoughts are Liars
Much of what our minds tell us is simply untrue.
If you want to calm an anxious child, help your kid recognize that these distortions, exaggerations, and negativity are not true we can help them breathe them down and replace them with helpful thoughts.
Use Self-Soothing To Calm An Anxious Child
11. Give yourself a hug.
Physical touch releases oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, and reduces the stress hormone in the body.
Have your child squeeze her/his body. The longer the better!
12. Give each other a hug.
Even better, hug each other. It’s proven that a 20-second hug releases oxytocin.
13. Drink some water!
While water in and of itself isn’t a cause or a cure for anxiety, being dehydrated can certainly make symptoms worse! Hydrate!
14. Have a bath
Water is very soothing for anxious kids. Hydrotherapy has been used for centuries to promote health.
Even just 10 minutes in a warm bath can change your entire child’s mental state.
15. Draw and distract
When thoughts are overtaking your kiddo’s mind — draw.
It’s hard to feel anxious when you are concentrating on a task such as drawing.
Use coloring books (I recommend these ones: Angry Octopus Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm Coloring Book: A Self-Help Kid’s Coloring Book for Overcoming Anxiety, Anger, Worry, and Stress
16. Listen to calming music
It’s been said that music can calm a person as effectively as drugs!
In one study they are using music to calm patients in the operating room.
Weightless by British group Marconi Union is known as a relaxing song.
17. Name your emotions
Putting our feelings into words has a therapeutic effect on the brain.
Studies have shown that the amygdala is less active when a feeling is labeled. Naming emotions also takes the power of the emotion away.
Why not put a fun variation on naming your emotions and teach your child to relate to their feelings and emotions like a weather system. This can help your child from reacting.
Sunny = happy, Stormy = angry, wintery = lonely, rainy = sad. Be creative and create new variations.
18. Use fidget toys
Fidget toys are one of my favorite ways to distract my son.
I love these fidget spinners!
19. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are so relaxing and can calm not only your child but you as well.
The relaxing scent of lavender is known for its therapeutic use in aromatherapy to relieve mild anxiety.
Lavender interacts with the neurotransmitter GABA to help quiet the brain and nervous system activity, thus reducing anger and agitation.
20. Calm Down Cards Are Your New Best Friend
We use these Calm Down Cards.
This is a sure bet strategy to calm an anxious child!
When I notice my son is starting to feel agitated, we pick 3 calm down cards from our basket and do whatever the card says.
This is enough to distract my kiddo from whatever big emotion was brewing. It’s super fun and engaging as well.
21. Create a Safe Space
Have you ever considered creating a calm down corner?
This is a genius way to give your child a safe space right at home.
You can grab our calm down corner wall art printables right here too.
22. Rub your ears
Did you know rubbing your ears can help you calm down?
I know, right?
If you gently massage pressure points on the lobes and outer rims of the ears this will help to relax you.
Start by having your child apply light pressure to their earlobes using their thumb and index finger, then rub the earlobes and move to the outer ears.
23. Guided meditations
Guided meditations are one of my favorite ways to help my kiddo relax.
24. Progressive muscle relaxation
Ask your child to go through each muscle group in their bodies, shoulders, chest, stomach, arms, thighs, calves and feet, have them tense each of these muscle groups for 4 seconds, then relax.
25. Breathing exercises
Breathing is so important to calm an anxious child. There are so many fun ways to teach your little one how to breathe properly.
- Download our free mindfulness printables which include lots of fun breathing exercises
- Flip to section 2 of your Anxiety Kit for Kids where we talk about calming and relaxation strategies, here we’ve provided more than 10 fun breathing exercises
- Read through 10 of the best breathing exercises for kids with anxiety.
Relaxation exercises are meant to be used to help your child struggling with unwanted thoughts and feelings. They are not meant to stop or eliminate these feelings from coming. They are a tool used to help kids relax and calm down.
Physical Exertion to Help Calm An Anxious Child
26. Take up yoga.
Did you know that stretching provides mental and physical benefits long after the exercise is completed?
To get started grab a copy of yoga pretzels or why not watch and go along with cosmic yoga on youtube?
These two poses, in particular, are awesome for reducing anxiety:
- Starting on your knees, sit back on your heels.
- Inhale lengthen through the spine.
- Exhale as you walk your arms in front of you, bringing your torso down so that you can rest your forehead on the mat.
- Rest your arms by your sides with your palms facing up near your feet.
- Breathe deeply
Downward facing dog
Here is a detailed explanation of how to do downward facing dog from Doyouyoga.
27. Go for a walk (in nature)
Did you know that walking in nature helps to reduce anxiety? (Among other benefits!)
Research shows that walking in nature lowers activity in the part of the brain linked to negative thoughts.
28. Push against a wall
This might seem a little strange, but any form of counter pressure will help an anxious child.
Push your hands against a wall like you are trying to break through it.
“This works the same way a hug does: You provide quick concise pressure on the body and then release. This quick release of pressure often makes us feel more relaxed.” Says psychotherapist Weaver Breitenbecher
29. Standing forward bend
Standing forward bend is one of my favorite poses to release anxiety, and it works wonders for kids too!
- Inhale, then as you exhale melt towards the floor.
- Tuck your chin towards your chest, relax your shoulders and extend the crown of your head towards the floor.
- Shift your weight forward on the balls of your feet.
- Straighten your legs as much as possible.
30. Strike a power pose
Any power pose will help make you feel strong and sturdy and release anxiety.
Amy Cuddy’s research suggests that we can change our body chemistry simply by changing body positions.
For a visual of amazing power poses your child can easily do check out Kaitlin Robinson’s power poses visuals for anxiety.
Learn Mindfulness To Calm an Anxious Child
30 Day Mindfulness Challenge
Have your child complete this fun 30 day-mindfulness challenge included in our Anxiety Kit for Kids.
31. Teach your kiddo’s Mindfulness
Try our most popular guide Mighty Mindful Kids, which includes 40 beginner’s mindfulness exercises.
Mindfulness is all about bringing your child into the present moment and out of their heads.
And boy are you in the right spot.
Mindfulmazing’s main motto is teaching you how to parent mindfully but also teaching you how to teach your kids the life-changing skills of mindfulness.
We’ve got a number of A+ resources for you here:
- Why Mindfulness is So Important for Kids
- How to Teach Mindfulness to Your Kids at Any Age
- 15 Mindfulness Exercises Your Kids Will Love
- 15 Must-Have Mindfulness Books For Kids
32. Get Mighty Mindful Kids!
Don’t overlook the power of this book.
It’s only the cost of a couple of cups of coffee but will provide life-long coping skills for your kids.
It’s our best-selling mindfulness eBook that will give you 40 beginner mindfulness exercises to teach your kids focus, awareness, calmness, positivity, and connection.
It’s a brilliant resource to start to introduce this life-changing habit to your kids.
33. Play emotional charades
Invite your kids or students to come up with a list of different feelings.
Encourage them to explore all feelings (happy, angry and sad). Write your feelings on little pieces of paper, fold them up and pick from a hat or box.
Next, we will act out what’s on the paper while the other kids or you guess what feeling they are acting out.
34. Use the train station analogy
Explain thoughts using analogies:
Thoughts arrive in our minds like trains to a busy train station. Our thoughts roll in and they roll out, and, in time, just like at a train station, every thought will depart.
So don’t focus or obsess too much over scary thoughts. They will pass before you know it.
35. Try an imagery relaxation exercise
Paint a picture of a calming place in your mind. Try to imagine every little detail. Sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.
If your child loves the beach you might encourage them to paint this picture in their minds:
Sight: Imagine the rolling green-blue waves. There is soft white sand all around you and you are all alone.
Sounds: You can hear the rhythmic rolling waves crashing into the shore.
Touch: The sun feels warm on your back and the sand is soft between your toes.
Smell: You can smell the fresh ocean air, salt tickles your nostrils.
Taste: You are sipping on a cool drink, perhaps an iced tea.
36. Play the 5 senses game
When your kiddo is in an agitated state, ask them to stop what they are doing and play the 5-senses game.
Quickly name 5 things you hear, smell, see and feel.
The idea here is to get out of your head and into the present moment.
37. Embrace the Unknown
Get used to the idea that we don’t know the future and definitely can’t control it.
Make friends with the unknown. Emphasize that life is an adventure and no one knows what’s around each corner. The unknown can be fun and exciting.
38. This too, shall pass
This is one of my favorite sayings.
Every feeling whether good or bad, will pass. Just like a storm passing through. Thoughts and feelings fade, change and pass.
Teach your kiddo’s this concept.
39. Teach about things we can control and things we can’t control
Many things in life are simply out of our control.
When we teach these concepts to our child it will help them focus on things they can control instead of obsessing over things they can not.
To calm an anxious child use our fun visuals in our Anxiety Kit for Kids to help teach your kiddo about control.
Using Connection to Help An Anxious Child Cope
40. Reassure your child that you are here for them.
Instead of telling your child that they are fine and everything is ok, try saying:
“I am here; you are safe.”
“Anxiety has a way of making things look worse and feel scarier than when we are not feeling worried. These words can offer comfort and safety when your child is feeling out of control, especially if they are at the height of their worry. If you’re not sure what to say, this is an excellent go-to phrase!” From Lemon Lime Adventures
41. Tell your little one stories about your own anxious times
My child LOVES to hear stories from my own childhood.
All of sudden he listens with more focus than a sooty saltwater fish.
Give it a try.
42. Use positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are a fabulous way to start the day on the right foot and a clever and relaxing way to end the day.
(If you’d like to develop a stress-free bedtime routine, you’ve got to read this.)
A supported kid is a happy kid.
Our anxiety kit for kids has a number of positive affirmations.
Not interested in the entire kit? Use the visual below to repeat the phrases to your child as much as you need to.
44. Try to find solutions
Ask your child if they can change the ending to the story they have generated in their heads.
Anxiety has a way of making kids feel stuck, like an endless broken record, spinning the same track over and over.
Help them to see different solutions and options, they can retell their story in a new way. Help them see different options by telling their stories in different ways, with different endings.
45. Instill Confidence
Confident children believe in themselves, have self-worth and are able to face new challenges without fear and anxiety. And these are key components for a happy and fulfilling life.
A few small suggestions to build confidence in your kiddo:
- Give them small tasks. Have you thought about setting up a chore chart for kids?
- Give kids your undivided attention (this is super important)
- Encourage and support your child. Use lots of positive affirmations and give compliments.
Why not grab our completely FREE chore charts for girls and boys? You can customize it however you like. Print and use again and again!
46. Use a fear ladder
If your child is anxious about something, in particular, consider using a fear ladder. Pick one fear to focus on for the week, and set a series of tasks related to that fear to complete over the week. Arrange the tasks from the least scary to the scariest.
This is a clever way to introduce and expose your child to scary situations.
The example below from our Anxiety Kit for Kids uses making a friend as an example.
47. Be a Detective
If your kiddo is obsessing about something…think tornadoes, snakes or needles, etc.
Then do some research on the topic. Knowledge is power.
How do you keep yourself safe from tornadoes? How often do tornadoes occur?
48. Stop minimizing their fears, acknowledge
Instead of saying, “you are fine” every time your child is struggling, replace, “you are fine.” with “tell me what’s bothering you.”
Let your child talk about their fears without interrupting. Do not offer solutions or try to solve their worries. Just listen and show support.
49. Watch Go Zen Anxiety Video’s
Go Zen is a great site for anxious kids.
Head over there and settle in awhile. They have awesome videos to visually help kids understand anxiety and develop kick-butt coping strategies.
23 Additional Fast and Clever Solutions for Anxious Kids
50. Get control of other parts of your day. Minimize stress in general in your household.
51. Reduce Sugar. Yup this one is important. Sugar contributes to an anxious and hyper kid.
52. Supplements do help! Use magnesium calm, stock up on Omega’s and grab a good multivitamin. Check out the 10 best vitamins and supplements for anxiety here.
53. Play with fido. Playing with the family pet brings you into the present moment and you guessed it, out of your head.
54. Chew Gum. Did you know gum can make you feel calmer?
55. Drink relaxation tea. Drinking a warm drink makes your body feel warm and cozy. It’s like a warm hug from the inside. Also, consider hot chocolate or warm milk.
56. Say a really silly word. If I want to lighten the mood when my son is feeling excessively agitated, I’ll say something completely silly and ridiculous. We both smile and laugh.
57. Jump Rope. Set a timer, put on some fun music and jump it out.
58. Blow Bubbles. This will help your child gain control over their breathing.
59. Watch Fish. Perhaps you’ve noticed there is always a fish tank in hospitals. That’s because it’s proven to reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
60. Count backward from 100. This requires mental focus, and this will help your child take their mind off of what’s eating them up inside.
61. Shout polar bear hug, and you and your child must stop what you are doing and give each other a big hug.
62. Express gratitude. Ask your child to name 5 things they are grateful for.
63. Rock in a rocking chair for a self-soothing break.
64. Plan a fun adventure. focus on what’s ahead of you, and help reset your internal dialogue.
65. Use shape breathing printables to teach kids how to breathe properly.
66. Use a weighted blanket to provide your kiddo a restful sleep.
67. Consider a swing or swing tent to give your child a sensory break
68. Make a list, you’ll feel better. Would your child benefit from making a list?
69. Need some calming strategies you can use anywhere? Check out 11 fantastic ideas here.
70. Grab this anger management kit. (Did you know anxiety often manifests as anger?)
71. Grab our anxiety management kit (Or purchase the anger and anxiety kit bundle for a reduced price)
72. Make a list of your support network. Does your child know who supports them?
73. Most of all, be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and anxiety isn’t going to disappear overnight.
Anxiety management holds an important place in my life. My biggest goal is to help my high functioning autism son to conquer his anxiety and live his best life. These tips are tried and tested to calm an anxious child. I’d love to hear from you below, what strategy works for you? What are you most excited to try?