Coping Strategies For Kids: Some stress levels are perfectly normal, especially for children as they try to understand an ever-changing world. While no one learns how to cope with anxiety immediately, your child will always feel prepared with the right list of coping skills for kids with anxiety while they’re young.
By experimenting with the best coping tools for kids with anxiety, you can help identify anxiety in children’s symptoms, and then you are equipped to help your child can pack an imaginary toolbox of stress-management skills together.
1. Engage the Mind
When your child feels anxious, engage their senses. For example, have them look around the room for something they can hear, smell, and something they can feel. Effective coping strategies for kids are to have your child imagine their happy place and describe it to you.
You could also try grounding exercises to keep your child grounded in the moment. One popular grounding technique that will engage your child’s mind is 5-4-3-2-1 senses. During this exercise, children must identify:
- Five things they can see
- Four things they can hear
- Three things they can smell
- Two things they can touch
- One thing they can taste
Grounding techniques keep a child-focused on the here and now, rather than intrusive thoughts in their head.
2. Try Out Physical and Mental Activities
Children can also learn to cope with their anxiety through physical or creative activities. Exercise tires children out and keeps stress at bay, and the arts fully engage the mind.
However, you can’t always pull out the coloring book or have your child run around—kids need more accessible physical and mental tools they can always use. Some children cope with fidget toys because these diversions give them something to do with their hands and occupy their minds. Fidget toys range from sensory putty to stress balls to fidget spinners.
3. Talk About Emotions and Validate Their Feelings
When children can better understand their emotions, this awareness can easily become one of the best coping tools for kids with anxiety. So, to start on this journey toward emotional ease, begin by validating their feelings of unease. Stress doesn’t have to feel like a forbidden topic.
Keep communication open, and talk about how they’re feeling; then, do a calming exercise together. You could try guided imagery or positive self-talk, for instance. Once your child understands the way they feel, these emotions become less scary and easier to overcome.
4. Teach Them Deep Breathing
Practicing calming exercises as coping strategies for kids does wonders because it allows your little one to feel secure. For example, deep breathing—when done correctly—calms the central nervous system. Before you start telling your child to breathe, get them to lay on their back comfortably. If they have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, let them hold it. Then, have your child:
- Breathe in like they’re smelling something yummy.
- Hold their breath like they’re about to dive underwater.
- Breathe out like they’re blowing out birthday candles.
Healthy Coping Strategies For Kids: How to Help Your Child Deal With Anxiety
The world can be a scary place, and many children have good reason to worry. However, many children worry much more than is reasonable for the situation.
Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. A person should be worried if they’re in a dangerous situation, for example. Anxiety is protective, but too much or inappropriate anxiety isn’t healthy.
Use these coping strategies for kids to help your child overcome their anxiety:
5. Be supportive and patient
It can be frustrating when your child is constantly worried about things that seem meaningless or silly. However, the anxiety they feel is just as real to them as your anxieties are to you. You don’t get to choose the emotions or fears of other people.
● Let your child know that you’re sensitive to their feelings and are always there to support them.
6. Avoid giving too much warning about a stressful event
If you know your child stresses out about going to the dentist, it’s best not to announce a dentist appointment three weeks in advance. The morning of the appointment is just fine. For some children, it might be even better to say, “Put on your shoes, we have to go to the dentist.”
● Too much notice can provide too much time to worry. Figure out how much time your child needs to keep their anxiety at a minimum. Some children appreciate a little time to process what’s going to happen.
7. Talk it out.
Ask your child what they’re worried about and why. Talk about why this fear is or isn’t valid. In other words, look for evidence to prove or disprove the reason for the fear.
● If the fear is valid, develop a plan together to handle the issue.
● If the fear isn’t valid, help your child to trust the evidence they found that negates the reason for the anxiety.
8. Help to keep their attention on the present moment
We can only worry when we project our attention into the future and imagine negative outcomes. This is largely a habit.
● Teach coping strategies for kids by helping them to focus on the present moment and their surroundings. Show your child that it’s more effective to focus on what is, rather than what might be.
9. Take a look at your home life for different coping strategies for kids
Is your home life stressful for your child? Do you and your child’s other parent get along well, or is there a lot of arguing? Are there financial pressures in the household that the child is aware of?
● Children might give the impression that they’re not listening, but they are surprisingly adept at figuring out what’s going on.
10. Avoid avoidance is just some of the effective coping strategies for kids.
You might think you’re being nice if you help your child to avoid everything that causes them to feel anxious, but you’re actually contributing to the issue.
● Each time your child is allowed to avoid the situation due to anxiety, there’s a part of her brain that says, “Hmmmm. If I make her feel anxious, we can get out of doing these things.”
● The brain quickly learns what works. The next time, the anxiety will be even stronger. The brain will continue turning up the volume until it gets what it wants.
● Avoiding a stressor brings relief, which is very rewarding. The urge to avoid only becomes stronger as it’s reinforced.
● Be supportive but avoid letting them off the hook.
11. Get professional help
It’s very challenging for a parent to effectively help a child with moderate to severe anxiety issues. It’s likely that professional help will be useful. Find a therapist or psychologist that specializes in coping strategies for kids of your child’s age.
Many children suffer from worry. They’re under a lot of social scrutiny at school, and kids can be cruel. They have little control over their lives. Most coping strategies for kids are controlled by parents or teachers.
If your child is anxious, it can be heartbreaking to see them worry all of the time. It can also be frustrating when their worries seem pointless to you. Be supportive and patient and get professional help if your efforts prove to be insufficient.
Understanding coping strategies for kids with anxiety and calm down benefits a child throughout their life. Things can get stressful, but with the right tools, anyone can power through.