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Teach your Child 5 Tips to Fight Anxiety

It’s incredibly common for kids to have anxiety: in fact, anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions for kids! Anxiety presents in a lot of different ways: It can look like worrying, panic, trouble sleeping, and even anger. Anxiety can be quiet: you might only gradually start to realize that your child has anxiety because they’ve kept it to themselves. However, the good news is that anxiety has a variety of effective treatments available, in addition to things you can do at home to help. Always remember that you should go to a professional if you’re concerned about your child’s anxiety, but I’ve provided a few coping tips in the meantime.

1. Teach your child relaxation techniques.

When your body is feeling anxious, it’s hard to soothe your mind. With anxiety, it’s more difficult for the brain to process input and select among options – making it harder to think. So, one of the first steps to fighting anxiety is calming the body to help out the brain. For anyone who has experienced anxiety, this is more difficult than it sounds. Telling your body to magically relax doesn’t work – and can often make it worse. Your kid might ask themselves why they can’t relax and get stressed about not being able to relax – ironically, increasing their anxiety.

If your child is struggling with anxiety, consider teaching slow breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of breathing that draws breath from the abdomen instead of the chest. When you’re breathing through your diaphragm, your stomach instead of your chest expands. Remember too that your kid should be breathing in through their nose and out through their mouth to get the most relaxation. Like everything in life, it’s something that improves with practice – don’t be discouraged if your child struggles at first. You could start by telling your child to imagine smelling their favorite thing, which naturally slows down breathing.

There are tips and tricks to help teach kids diaphragmatic breathing. Consider the “Take 5 Breathing Exercise for Kids.” The idea of this exercise is to teach kids the pattern of deep breathing. Kids stretch out their hands and breathe in and out as they slide a finger up and down their hand. Or try guided visualization - it still uses deep breathing but pairs it with visualizing a calming experience. There is no “wrong” way to try relaxation – feel free to experiment and see what works best for your kid.