6 Powerful Ways To Help Kids With Anxiety

by | Aug 27, 2020

Tips, Strategies, and Ideas for Parents with Worried Kids

I have a few thoughts on how to help kids deal with anxiety, so please keep reading!

Everyone has kids who worry from time to time.

It’s normal.

But for some, the worries turn to concerning behavior patterns and evolve into debilitating anxiety.

Let’s be honest. This world is crazy right now. Everyone is stressed including our kids!

We are all just putting one foot in front of the other trying to have some semblance of normalcy.

All of this chaos is affecting everyone’s stress levels, especially our kids.

Moms and teachers need some resources for helping kids with anxiety and fear. They have to learn some coping strategies!

Let’s start with some terms…

Worry is defined as: to give way to anxiety or unease; to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.

Anxiety is defined as: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Some synonyms for worry are:

  • anguish
  • concern
  • doubt
  • fear
  • uneasiness
  • problem
  • uncertainty
  • trial

Those are weighty words.

Words that don’t conjure up happy feelings inside your mind and heart.

Now imagine those words being used to describe how your child is feeling on a daily basis.

That would cause most parents to be concerned, sad, and wanting to help their child in whatever way possible.

According to the CDC, 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years have diagnosed anxiety.

That’s about 4.4 million children. Too many!

And those are only the reported and documented cases.

Anxiety Among Children and Teens is a Huge Problem in our Country

Sometimes it seems like everyone is just one push away from being at their breaking point.

We need to help our kids and teens deal with their anxiety!

So how do we go from seeing our children worry, to helping them let stuff go, and hopefully having more peace in their minds and hearts?

I’m no doctor, but I do have some great suggestions.

Keep in mind these are just my opinions.

If your child is having panic attacks or altered behaviors that are concerning due to excessive fears or worries, please consult with your child’s pediatrician for professional advice.

But if you’re just wanting parenting advice, I have some great ways to help your children deal with fear and anxiety.

I hope you find them helpful and encouraging.

Remember, you can’t solve all of their problems, but you can give them the tools to better communicate and deal with their feelings.

*This article contains affiliate links (my book rec!) which means I may make a small commission from any items you purchase.

Easy Pin For Your Boards!

help kids with anxiety pin for pinterest

6 Powerful Ways To Help Kids With Anxiety

1. Journaling/Drawing Pictures

For many kids, when they’re struggling with anxiety, one of the things that can be challenging for them is verbalizing their fears.

What if my parents think I’m crazy?

What if Mommy doesn’t believe me about my nightmares?

My brother might make fun of me if he finds out I’m afraid of going to school.

young girl writing in her journal to help deal with anxiety
Journaling/Drawing Pictures: A great way to help kids share and process their worries.

Those are just hypothetical examples of kids and their thoughts.

A child may not be afraid to share their fears. They just may not know how.

Writing down their feelings or drawing pictures (if they don’t know how to write) is a great way to get their thoughts on paper.

It helps you as their parent understand their fears a little better and it may be very therapeutic for your child.

I’ve heard of parents asking their kids to write down everything they’re worried about, then read the whole list, acknowledge the worries, and throw the list away.

It represents the idea that our fears and worries exist, but they don’t have to stay with us all the time.

They don’t need to have power over our thoughts.

Journaling and drawing pictures can be super effective for little ones or teenagers! To help kids with anxiety, I encourage you to use this strategy!

2. Read Books to Help Them Relate

Another great way to help kids with anxiety is to read books that are relatable to their struggles.

Books tell stories. They have characters that experience feelings, emotions, problems, and victories.

So what better way to help a child relate to someone than by reading them a great book!

And make sure you give them great examples that are age-appropriate.

Don’t be a doofus and give a poor example like this:

Sweetheart, think about Kevin. His parents left him at home by himself for a few days, and he was fine. He bought groceries, watched tv, and was even able to defend his house from 2 bad guys. If we ever left you home alone, you’d be fine.”

#badparenting

Real example.

Here’s an awesome book to read to little ones:

Ruby Finds A Worry by Tom Percival

This book is fantastic! Ruby is a little girl who one day notices that there’s a big blob (worry)

following her around. It’s everywhere she goes. Ruby is not a fan of this worry because she

doesn’t want to be different and it makes her feel self-conscious. Will it always be here? Will it

ever go away? At the end of the book she meets another kid who happens to have a worry

following him. Both kids realize that worries are a part of life, and you don’t have to let them

rule your thoughts and happiness. It’s just part of growing up. Make sure if you read this book

to your child, that you allow them time to ask questions and engage in conversation after you’re

done reading the book. It may be very insightful for you as the parent!

Asking questions and listening to their answers can show you where your child is at in processing their fears and emotions.

Don’t skip this part!

If you’re a teacher and your students are gripped with worry, or if you’re a parent and your child has lots of fears, this is a wonderful book to share with them. The illustrations are helpful too!

So order it on Amazon or check it out from the library. Either way, don’t miss out on this wonderful resource!

3. Be Honest About Your Own Fears

Another way to help your kids with anxiety is to be honest about your own fears.

I’m not saying you need to share all of your irrational fears with your kids.

They have plenty of their own to deal with.

Just be honest and share from your heart.

Use age-appropriate language to convey that even as an adult, you have worries too.

Here’s an example:

Me: “Addie, did you know that there’s things that I’m afraid of ?”

Addie: “Really? Like what?”

Me: “When I’m driving in a rain storm or when it’s snowing, I’m very scared.”

Addie: “Why?”

Me: “I feel like I don’t have control of the car a lot of the time or I’m worried that other drivers will run into me and we will get in an accident.”

Addie: “Are you always afraid when it rains and you’re driving?”

Me: “Not always. Just when it’s pouring really hard and it’s difficult for me to see. But you know what helps me?”

Addie: “What?”

Me: “I usually turn the music down and just pray and talk to God.”

Addie: “Really? The whole time?”

Me: “Pretty much. It helps me get out my thoughts, tell God that I’m afraid, and also ask Him for help to stay safe on the road. One time when I drove home from college it was pouring so hard I could barely see. I drove really really slow and prayed the whole way. And I made it home safely and had a nice long conversation with God.”

Addie: “So I should talk to God when I’m afraid?”

Me: “Absolutely. You can talk to God anytime. He tells us to give all of our worries over to Him because He cares about us.”

Addie: “So I can tell God that I’m afraid of getting bit by a rabid raccoon or attacked by a woodchuck?”

Me: “You can share it all.”

Addie: “Thanks Mommy.”

That’s just one example.

There are plenty of ways you can have honest conversations with your kids

However, I think when we are humble with our kids and share that grown-ups worry too, it makes us seem more human to them.

More relatable.

And yes, one night Addie asked if I would pray that God would protect her from ever being bitten by a raccoon with rabies.

Rather than dismissing it as silly, we prayed about it right then.

Knowing that we had prayed about her concern helped her fall asleep.

One of the coolest things for me and Jesh in parenting has been watching Addie catch on to biblical truths like prayer.

When she’s worried about something, more than likely she will ask us to pray for her.

We are watching her turn to God for comfort and peace, and it’s beautiful to see.

This leads me to my next point.

4. Pray with Your Child

close up of mom holding child's hand while praying
Give your child the gift of prayer!

What’s another way you can help kids with anxiety?

I can’t think of a greater gift to offer your child than to teach them about going to God in times of trouble.

You are teaching them about one of the greatest tools we have in this life.

Why not teach them when they are young?

Yes, prayer is a challenging concept, but as a family you can learn to navigate prayer together.

We have prayed for Addie since before she was born. We try to pray with her every night before bed.

And now that she’s older and processing so much of life, prayer is getting incorporated more and more.

Now Addie is learning that she can talk to God anytime, not just when she’s scared.

She can share good things and hard things with Him. He cares about it all…because He cares about her.

You may be thinking, “How do I pray with my child? We hardly ever pray.”

Great question.

It’s never too late to start.

God loves humility so much.

When you’re humble, you’re teachable.

And that’s the best place to begin.

My advice? Just start.

Talk to God. Talk to Him like He’s beside you and is your friend.

Tell Him what’s on your heart.

Model to your child that prayer is like a normal conversation.

For instance, there have been times in our marriage where life has thrown us some tricky storms and the feeling in the room was very heavy.

One time I grabbed Jesh’s hand to pray, and we both sat there for a while saying nothing.

Finally I spoke and just said, “Lord please be with us. We need you. Amen.”

Super short.

But it actually felt better to open my mouth and cry out to God, letting Him know how much we needed Him in that moment.

If your child comes to you with fears and worries, try praying with them.

Make a habit of turning to God with your worries as a family. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

I’m not saying it’s a magic formula, because it’s not.

But there’s something to be said for giving your fears over to God, knowing that He cares for you.

Scripture says, “This is the confidence that we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us, and if we know He hears us in whatever we ask, we know we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” (I John 5:14-15, ESV)

God hears, sees, and knows our needs. He also hears, sees, and knows the needs of our children better than we do.

Give them the gift of prayer!

If you want to read more about overcoming anxiety with God’s help, read my friend Stacey’s post. It’s amazing!

Related Post: 5 Beautiful Things To Pray Consistently For Your Kids

Great Resources To Help Kids With Anxiety

You’ve made it through over half of this article, so you are definitely wanting to help kids with anxiety!

You should reward yourself by snagging one of these books.

When My Worries Get Too Big by Kari Dunn Buron

The subtitle for this book is A Relaxation Book for Children who Live with Anxiety.

It talks about levels of anxiety and allows for kids to verbalize their feelings about

good activities with a ranking of 1 or 2. It also discusses how anxiety affects you

in physical ways. This book is normally ranked on Top 10 Lists for books for kids

with anxiety!

What To Do When You Worry Too Much

by Dawn Huebner, Ph. D.

This book is referred to as A Kid’s Guide To Overcoming Anxiety. It’s

designed to be very interactive for parents and children, ages 6-12. There

are even prompts for children to draw and write in order to help them learn

different calming strategies. This comes highly recommended by many!

5. Focused Activity

Want to help kids with anxiety and get their minds off their worries?

Get them to DO something and focus their energy away from their fears and towards something else.

I need to get out of the house.

I’ve said that out loud to myself on more than one occasion.

Sometimes when I get overwhelmed or stressed, I just need some fresh air and physical activity.

For kids who deal with their anxiety on a regular basis, encouraging them to channel their energy into something other than their worries is a very loving thing to do as a parent.

Along with helping their anxiety temper down, a focused activity can help with building their confidence.

Play a game or do something as a family. I wrote a great post on fun family activities that are SCREEN FREE. These activities could be a great distraction if your child is dealing with anxiety.

Is your child athletic? Have him go outside and practice kicking the soccer ball around or shoot baskets for an hour.

Does your child enjoy making music? Maybe they can take up guitar lessons or learn how to play the piano.

You may get to a point when your child is freaking out about something, and talking about the fear is no longer helpful.

No progress is being made and everyone is frustrated.

Help your child take their mind off of the anxiety and go for a run (or quick walk!).

A friend of mine has shared that 2 of her 4 children deal with anxiety, and it has been so helpful for them in their struggles to have focused activities.

One of them took up knitting and another one plays the drums.

It doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as there is some kind of creative or physical outlet to focus their energy on.

And you know what?

After an hour or so of playing outside or creating music, their worries may be the furthest thing from their mind.

For me, after I’ve taken a long walk or played the piano for awhile, I’m much calmer.

It doesn’t mean that the worries or frustrations have disappeared, but I did something for myself to improve my thinking and my emotions.

The same is true for kids!

6. Seek Out Counseling When Necessary

biracial child playing with blocks during a play therapy session
Some families have found great success with play-based therapy.

Just mentioning the word counseling can bring about all kinds of conflicts and opinions between people.

Please hear me that I am not recommending that your child see a counselor or therapist if they’re worried about butterflies coming near them when they’re outside. (This is one of Addie’s worries!)

No.

I’m specifically suggesting “seek out counseling when necessary” because sometimes it is necessary.

Sometimes your child’s fears and anxieties may be so severe that their mood changes suddenly and they display very concerning behaviors.

Behaviors that warrant extra attention and outside help.

I’m not going to list specific behaviors here because I’m not a pediatrician or child psychologist.

But I will include some websites for further reading. Here are a few:

www.childmind.org

www.healthychildren.org

www.adaa.org

First of all, if your child has debilitating fears and anxieties, and this is your current reality, I am so sorry that you are on this road.

I cannot imagine how difficult this journey is to navigate.

I would suggest first talking to your child’s pediatrician, sharing your concerns, and asking for advice.

Maybe there will be a formal evaluation or you’ll be referred to a specialist.

How Do I Find The Right Therapist?

Great question! Here are some tips:

  • Take your time
  • Get more than one opinion
  • Make sure there is chemistry between your child and the therapist
  • Pray about it

When it’s all said and done make sure your child’s therapist is a good fit for their needs!

Some friends of mine, when they brought their son home from Africa, noticed some concerning things in their son’s behavior fairly quickly.

They ended up finding an amazing therapist who specialized in play based therapy and it worked wonders in his life.

He is thriving now and I know they would highly recommend this type of therapy.

Therapy isn’t something to take lightly, but it’s also not something to shy away from.

Do what’s best for your child!

Pin This One To Your Boards!

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Let’s Wrap Things Up in a Big Red Bow

There are different ways you can help your child navigate their fears, worries, and anxieties.

But there is no magic formula.

So try out one thing, and if it doesn’t seem to help, move on to something else.

If you’re worried about what other people will think, let me stop you right there.

Not every Concerned Karen or Meddling Mary in the neighborhood needs to know your business.

Why does it matter what they think? Don’t let the hundreds of opinions on social media alter the parenting that you and your spouse are trying to accomplish.

And trying to please everyone and consider all opinions is a recipe for insanity.

You and your spouse have a priority: parent your children and help them navigate this crazy world we live in.

Help them thrive.

To do that well, you oftentimes have to tune out the noise of other people’s opinions.

Your parenting is most likely going to look different than your friends and family members.

And that’s 100% okay.

Do right by your child.

Give them the skills and tools they need to help them overcome their fears and worries.

Don’t give up on them, and don’t give up on yourself.

Parenting is a process.

Give yourself and your child lots of grace.

And remember to celebrate the many victories along the way!

In closing, I’ll leave you with this encouraging verse:

“ ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’ ”

~ John 16:33

Lots of love to each of you!

~ Lisa

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

Comment below if you have any other tips or ideas for helping your kids deal with anxiety.

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One More Great Resource

Amazing List of Books for Kids with Anxiety: Definitely worth a look!

62 Comments

  1. Kait

    I have anxiety as an adult, and I can’t even imagine how difficult these thoughts and feelings must be for children. I am definitely an advocate for therapy, as it has helped me a lot, but I am glad that you are recommending it cautiously along with other good advice.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Kait. I’m so sorry that you deal with anxiety and that you’ve found great benefits from therapy. Prayers and blessings to you!

  2. Kelly

    I think therapy is such a wonderful resource. Even as an adult with anxiety, therapy has introduced lots of new, healthy ways to cope.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Therapy with a trusted, reliable person can be so helpful in the healing process! Thanks Kelly!

  3. Genesis

    I was such an anxious kid growing up but reading books that teach you about what to do with worry was always a good solution for me! I love this suggestion!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Genesis. It’s amazing how powerful books can be in the lives of kids…and adults!

  4. LaRena Fry

    Such an important topic and article. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Anxiety in kids is such a big deal these days. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Andrea Santogrosso

      This is such a relevant issue for both children and adults. I’m a huge advocate for children’s mental health and the tips that you’ve provided for us are very effective. Thank you for sharing!

    • Lisa

      Thanks Andrea for your kind and thoughtful comment, and thank you for being an advocate for children’s mental health.

  5. Willa

    Really great points, I am so sharing this article with my local support group for families with 2e kids as anxiety is really HUGE for these kids.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I’m so glad you found these tips helpful Willa. Thank you so much for sharing this article with your support group! Knowledge is power. =)

  6. Kristen

    Great list! I especially like the book suggestions.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Kristen! I’m glad you found these tips helpful.

  7. idara Joy

    Great tips! I do daily wrap ups with my kids to help them talk through whatever may be on their mind. When anxiety is a topic of the day, I ask them “what is the worst that can happen?” and through a series of q&a and analysis, they realize that it is really not as bad as it seems. . I have also found that journaling helps my daughter with worry and anxiety.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I love the idea of getting your kids to tell you the worst things that could happen and showing them that it’s not as bad as they think. I’m so glad you have your daughter journal!

  8. Greg - Year of the dad

    It is so hard to get our kids to deal with anxiety. But I agree praying with them and for them is one of the most powerful things you can do to help them. I try to remind my kids every time they get anxious or worry about something that prayer is so powerful.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Praying for and with our kids is so important!

  9. Jessica

    Great article, thanks for posting. I love 1 John 5:14:)

    Reply
    • Lisa

      You’re welcome Jessica! Scripture is definitely a source of comfort and strength. I’d be lost without it!

    • Sankhamala

      Your tips are really valuable. In my opinion journaling is the best way to deal with anxiety.

    • Lisa

      Journaling can definitely be helpful in dealing with anxiety. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

    • Lisa

      You can never go wrong with prayer!

    • Felister

      Lots and lots of great information. Parents, gurdians and even older siblings can now get a good sense of direction on what to do and not to do. Definitely a great read!

    • Lisa

      Thanks so much! This is such an important issue in today’s world. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  10. Carly | My Green Toddler

    Great post, thanks for these tips. I don’t get anxiety so even when I recognize it in my children I’m not sure what to do about it. My kids love books so I think they will be a good teaching tool for my two.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Carly! I hope if you need these tips at some point, they will come in handy with your kids.

  11. Marissa Tiongson

    Lisa, these are wonderful recommendations. We will certainly be using them with our kids. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Marissa! I hope these come in handy for you and your kids.

  12. Suzanne

    You have so many great tips and resources here! These are great for not only kids! Thank you for all the information

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I’m so glad you appreciated the tips and resources Suzanne!

  13. taffy

    thanks for the helpful and positive post. great suggestions for children suffering from anxiety.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Taffy! I definitely think that knowledge is power and if we are more equipped to help our kids, everyone will benefit!

  14. Kate

    Such wonderful ideas listed here! I love the book recommendations. I will have to check them out

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I hope you get a chance to check out the books!

  15. Anitha

    That was a thorough and well researched article. It is important that the parents support their kids through their fears and help to overcome them.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Anitha! I agree that it’s so important for parents to support their kids as they navigate anxiety. They are depending on us!

  16. Maria

    These are such great suggestions for kids with anxiety. Anxiety can be tough at any age but when you start early, you have the best chance of acquiring the tools you need to tame the anxiety beast.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Maria! I’m so glad you found these ideas helpful. =)

  17. Jessica

    Great advice! 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for taking the time to read through the article! I’m glad you appreciated the advice. =)

  18. Christine

    This is so helpful, my son, 4, is going through a phase where he’s scared at night… I do most of these steps but never thought about getting a book to help. Will definitely look into one of your recommendations… Ruby sounds like something he’ll like. Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I’m so glad you found these ideas helpful! I hope that reading books to your son will help him as he deals with his worries.

  19. Sarah Spencer

    We love, love, love our play therapist!
    this is a great list!
    Stepping away and doing a physical activity always helps my little ones too!
    🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Play therapy is so helpful, and I’m grateful that it’s something that has benefited your family. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Sarah!

  20. Sacha

    I like the idea of reading books to help them see that it’s more normal and common than they think, and it will encourage them to be more open about their fears.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Reading books to our kids is such a great way to help them relate their struggles to other people or characters. Glad you found it helpful!

  21. Gillyana

    Yes, definitely trying these with my little one! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      So glad it was helpful!

  22. Ryan

    Awesome post! Thanks so much for the helpful advice. We love the sections on praying and reading them stories. Very helpful. 👍🏽

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Ryan! So glad you enjoyed the article and found it helpful.

  23. Kathy Childers

    These are really good ideas and practical. I like the part about trying to see what works for you and your child! I always recommend setting a good example too and praying out loud with your child always works! Great article Lisa.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Kathy! So glad you enjoyed the article.

  24. Kris Kelly

    Great blog Lisa! Very practical!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for reading and for your encouraging words!

  25. Cari

    Great advice and so timely in today’s world! Thank you for writing this. It will definitely help so many children and their families. ❤️

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for the encouragement Cari and for sharing it on FB!

  26. Melisa Thickstun

    You always share such amazing ways to help our kiddos. Thank you for being an amazing friend who cares about other people.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for reading this and supporting the blog! Appreciate your kinds words.

  27. Kathy Bowling

    Sweetie, this is fabulous…You have found a perfect way to express yourself! ☺

    Reply
    • Lisa

      You are so kind! Thanks for reading.

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