How to Calm Kids’ Worries

How to Calm Kids’ Worries

These simple, playful tips will calm anxious minds and put kids back at ease.

By Lorraine Allen

While some kids worry more than others, one thing is certain: Every child struggles with anxiety on occasion, and it can be hard for parents to know exactly how to help their little one. Sometimes, kids’ fears are imaginary, like monsters under the bed. Other times, they may stress over friendships, school tests, or performances—or more serious things that are out of anyone’s real control. But there are many simple, playful, and effective ways parents can support kids who feel anxious, and help them learn calming strategies that can provide some relief no matter what challenges they face.

1. If a child is worried she will not be able to handle a certain difficult task, event, or situation, help her stay calm and think less catastrophic thoughts by asking her what she would tell her best friend in this situation, suggests New York-based therapist Karen Jacobson. This approach works quickly and simply by helping kids step back from their fear, and think objectively about what is going on.

2. Think of emotions as clouds that are passing by, or balloons, and realize that fears and worries are not dangerous, they are simply natural feelings we all have, that come and go, like joy and excitement. Encouraging kids to let anxiety and fear go by taking some deep, calming breaths, and blowing them away, can help them refocus and feel calm quickly, says Deb Valentin, an acupuncturist who works with kids and adults dealing with stress and tension.

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3. In his book The Opposite of Worry, Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., suggests asking kids, “Can you imagine a happy outcome to this situation?” And, “Do you have any ideas what to do next?” Cohen also recommends trying to reverse roles with you child, to help them feel more in charge. Say, “My friend is really scared of swimming, and since you have dealt with that, I was wondering if you have any advice I could give her to help her out?”

4. When I’ve experience seriously stressful moments with my child, we’ve always managed to calm down and push through by counting together, up to 10 (sometimes a few times), slowly. When we count, we somehow feel like we’re taking back control of time and of our bodies, and there is something deeply comforting about this.

How do you help ease your child’s fears?

Lorraine is a freelance parenting, health and food writer, and she shares her cooking adventures and family recipes at

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