Whether they're concerned about everything in the news right now, or they've had a pretty stressful day at school, sometimes your child just can't get a handle on their worries. Watching your child worry is one of the hardest things about being a parent.
So, because we love to give you useful tools that will make your parenting easier, we've gathered a list of simple activities to manage your child's anxiety. Help them manage their emotions with any of these 31 effective ideas.
Go for a walk
It's not rocket science (we'll get to the rocket ship later), but going for a walk can be a great way of calming down. Getting out in nature, moving your body, spending time with loved ones will all help your child manage their emotions.
Calming "cookie dough"
No, we're not talking about eating your feelings. This activity from Kids Play Smarter is actually a way of using pressure and proprioceptive input to calm down a child. It's surprisingly effective.
Make your own worry monster
Some children find it easier to deal with worries if they have somewhere physical to imagine putting them. These DIY worry monsters from Lemon Lime Adventures are an anxiety tool wrapped up in a craft activity.
Many companies are catching onto the fact that meditation can be just as beneficial to children as to adults. Calm has a kid's section, as does Headspace, and Moshi is a child-focused app containing sleep stories for those with night-time worries.
DIY calm down kit
If your child tends to get anxious or worried regularly, then having a kit on hand, ready to go, can be the difference between tears and smiles. This DIY calm down kit from Raising Kids With Purpose can be adapted to the age of your child and popped in a drawer for when it's needed.
DIY shake and search bottle
Giving your brain something else to do to replace anxious thoughts is a really effective calming technique for kids. We've got a few of these shake and search bottles on our list. This one from CBC Parents has a fun checklist on the front to help concentrate the mind.
Introducing calming scents is a common relaxation technique for kids (and adults) of any age. If you're dealing with younger children then adding the tactile experience of playdough is an added boost. Teach 2 and 3 Year Olds shows you how to make your own calming scented playdough.
Squishy sensory balloon games
Mosswood Connections developed this calming activity for kids with autism, but it works well with younger children who are in need of some calming down. Find out how to use balloons in this fun sensory game.
Coloring books are all the rage for adults right now, but they have calming effects on children too. This Mommy and Me coloring book can help you take your child's mind off their worries while doing something together.
Emotion flash cards
Children often have trouble naming and recognizing their emotions. These cards from Parenting With Confidence can help you explore different feelings together, and work to address worries.
Here's another craft that will encourage mindfulness and observation, both great tools to reduce anxiety. Teaching Ideas uses polymer clay to make mindfulness stones for children to use when they're worried.
Laughter is the best medicine, or so the saying goes. And when you're dealing with anxiety this is definitely true. One of the best strategies for helping kids deal with anxiety is to find something fun to do. Watch a film, play a game, or just tell each other jokes.
Mini aquarium in a bottle
The 2nd of our search and find bottles here, this one with an ocean theme. Filled with aquarium sand and tiny plastic sea creatures, A Little Pinch of Perfect's bottle can help calm little ones as they search for crabs.
Unsurprisingly, yoga has made it onto our list. This ancient practice helps anxious children get in touch with their bodies and calm their breathing. There are hundreds of online videos to choose from, with Cosmic Kids being a fun option.
Peace discovery bottle
This aptly themed discovery bottle is full of colored rice, and tiny wooden shapes. One Time Through has loads of ideas for how to keep your little ones focused on the contents while they're calming down.
DIY ninja stress balls
I love these little guys! Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls shows you how to make these cute little ninjas in no time at all. Then your kids can squeeze their worries away whenever they need to.
DIY mini light table
Using sensory play to calm worried little minds is a great strategy. In The Playroom shows you how to make your own mini light table with materials that you'll probably have laying around the house.
54321 grounding exercise
This calming strategy is quite commonly suggested by therapists for adults as well as children. Very Special Tales talks you through using observation of your surroundings to calm your worried brain.
If your child needs something to do with their hands while they calm down, then consider buying one of the wide range of fiddle toys out there. These tangle toys from Amazon are good options.
Heading to the spa every time your child gets anxious isn't really justifiable (although it would be nice!). Instead, you can use some of these massage ideas from Very Special Tales to ground your child and calm them down.
DIY zen garden
Take inspiration from the Buddhist monks and make your own zen garden with Projects with Kids. This is a wonderfully calming sensory activity for elementary and older kids.
We all have days when hiding under a comforter seems like the most sensible option. For kids who need to feel held, or who have sensory concerns, a weighted blanket like this one can really help them deal with their worries.
Cool down cubes
Developed for students on her caseload with anger management issues, these cool down cubes from Crafty Counsellor Chick are a great tool to have at home as well. Using plastic ice cubes and a sharpie, each of them gives a calming down strategy to try.
If DIY isn't your thing (or if you've run out of popsicle sticks) then these worry eater monsters from Amazon can be your child's new best friend. They can write down the things they're worried about and put them inside the worry eater's zipped mouth. Then they don't have to worry anymore!
Lazy 8 breathing
Deep breathing has both physical and mental benefits for those dealing with anxiety. Very Special Tales talks you through how lazy 8 breathing can be a useful relaxation technique for kids.
Tense and release muscle activity
As part of a group of mindfulness exercises, Big Life Journal talk you through a tense and release muscle activity proven to calm down little ones. There's even a handy printable to help.
No-prep listening activity
This is a quiet outside activity to help encourage mindfulness for kids from Hands On As We Grow. No prep, no resources, just you and your child outside.
DIY aromatherapy stress balls
Add a little something extra to your DIY stress ball with this recipe from Mama Teaches. Choose an essential oil that has calming properties, and add it to your ball. Then, each time you squeeze, you'll feel the effects.
Another breathing technique that can help calm anxiety, and that kids will love, is dragon breathing. Follow the video explainer from Hey Sigmund to get started.
A calm down retreat
Not every child wants to have company while they're anxious. Some of them want to be alone in a safe space. So Lemon Lime Adventures created a calm down retreat for those occasions. Find out how to make yours on their website.
The mindfulness candle
Getting into habits gives our children tools to reach for when they come across anxieties and worries. This mindfulness activity is how we start our mornings as a family. All you need is a candle, and you're on your way to calmer days.