Simple Anxiety Strategies for Kids - Social Emotional Workshop

Simple Anxiety Strategies for Kids

By Laura Driscoll | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Apr 02
anxious young girl

We all have our go-to anxiety strategies for kids. Deep breathing with cute names like Balloon Breaths or guided imagery of a calm beach. Those are perfectly effective strategies and some of my favorites. In counseling, I like to be able to give students a couple different options to find one that works best for them. Here are 4 more of my favorite anxiety strategies for kids.

Mindful Minutes

This is one that I have started incorporating at the beginning of my day. I'm so not a touchy-feely person and I will admit a rolled my eyes a bit at mindfulness and meditation. I'm a big person and I can admit when I am wrong. It is an incredibly powerful anxiety strategy. 

Grab these 12 free mindful minutes from The Toolbox and start with the beginning script. This will familiarize students with mindfulness by having them focus on their breathing in the moment. 

Singing

This is a great one! I recently found out that singing is a really effective strategy during a panic attack. It can be as simple as "Row, row, row your boat" or a current pop song. 

Singing helps a person regulate their breathing and also focus on something besides their anxiety. This can also be used during moments of stress or anxiety as well, not just during panic attacks.

Rubber and Rocks

Anxiety often stems from events or people that we have no control over. Students worry about the weather, a schedule change, or being separated from a parent. 

It is helpful for students to categorize their worry as something they can or cannot change. Then shift their focus to the things they can change or control.

What part of my problem is like a rock and what part is like rubber?

The student has a test coming up and is very worried. The test is a rock. The student can't stop the testing from coming. The student can change how he or she prepares for the test. The preparation is rubber. 

Find it a Home

Have students separate their worry from themselves. Their worry is a part of them, not all of them. They imagine creating a safe home for their worry. They can talk to their worry there.

In groups, we would make worry dolls. You may have had these as a kid. The student would talk to their worry using questions like the following:

  • What are you afraid will happen?
  • How long have you been worried about this?
  • What do you want or need?

The student can also ask their worry to stay in the same home while they take care of the problem. It can be very effective for students to feel they are in charge of their anxiety.


What are your favorite anxiety strategies for kids?

anxious young girl

About the Author

Laura is a former school psychologist passionately trying to bring social-emotional learning to every student at every tier. Click here for hands-on resources for the classroom and counseling.

  • Helene says:

    Thank you Laura for sharing all your great tips and strategies… truly appreciate everything you do for our future leaders!!

    • Laura Driscoll says:

      Thank you so much Helene! That is a wonderfully kind comment. So glad you are finding the posts helpful.

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