Today anxiety has become the most prevalent mental health disorder worldwide, and children are no exception. Globally 7.1% of children between ages 3-17 have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder.
1. Importance of Anxiety Activities for Kids
There is a need to understand various tools and ways to manage anxiety. While an adult can do it themselves, a child needs a helping hand in passing through this. There are some wonderful anxiety activities for kids.
When a child becomes anxious, not only does the child suffer, but it can be overwhelming for even the parents to deal with a situation that makes a child anxious.
Sometimes assuring words may not help the child calm down because a child may not know how to calm down. That is why there is a need for anxiety activities for kids.
2. What Is the Goal of Anxiety Activities for Kids?
Our aim here is not to eliminate anxiety. It cannot go a long way as you will not always be able to remove stress triggers. We aim to guide and help the child to manage anxiety effectively. That means if a child has a social anxiety disorder, then excusing the child from school or family activities is fueling anxiety by avoiding it. What we need to reinforce is he or she is brave enough to handle it.
Children may get anxious about a range of things such as school, playing with other kids, darkness, being in social gatherings, and change of place. Some kids may even feel anxious about trying new things or learning from fear of failure or mistakes.
Before we know some tools and anxiety activities for kids, there are a few pointers here for parents, guardians, or caretakers dealing with an anxious child.
- The first step towards helping them cope with it is assuring them that it is okay to feel the way they feel normalizing the feeling of anxiety and not making them feel out of place. Again a reminder, we are talking about helping them manage their anxiety and not trying to fix it.
- Whenever kids are anxious, we need to ensure we do not overpower them. We take a step at a time.
- Listening and validating their feelings and thoughts. It is of paramount importance that they share their feelings.
- There are no specific activities for a certain type of anxiety disorder. Different things will work for different kids. Also, activities to calm a child largely depend on the situation and availability of things.
3. Some Anxiety Activities for Kids
Colors are fascinating, and children invariably love colors. Playing with colors such as painting strokes on paper or mixing different colors to make different shades can quickly help you calm your mind.
You don’t have to be an artist for this. Making patterns, doodling, or just randomly scribbling designs on paper shifts your focus from anxiety into a calm state of mind.
3.3. Listening to Music
Listening to music is one of the handy activities amongst anxiety activities for kids. If your child is old enough to pick out a playlist, then listen to music together. You can even choose some calming or peppy music if your child is fond of dancing, then dancing to favorite tunes can help release the anxiety.
3.4. Going for a Walk
This activity may not be feasible in all situations however going out for a walk just around the neighborhood or a garden, listening to the sound of chirping birds, or driving to a favorite spot can be very helpful. You can have a good chat on the way, making way for your child to express feelings.
3.5. Making Slime
Slime is a sticky, stretchy jelly-like thing. Some kids can play for hours with it. You get a colorful, glittery variety of slimes on the market and even a DIY slime-making kit. Most kids like to play with slime, and making one is more fun. Make colorful slimes, even add glitter to them, and let the child squeeze and stretch the slime to relax the mind.
Making small things, and animals from colorful playdough can prove to be a very engaging activity. Rolling the dough and making shapes is fun, keeping the child engrossed in a fun world for a long time.
3.7. 54321 Mindful Grounding Exercise
This technique of focusing on your 5 senses helps to realign your thoughts to the present. So in this activity, you need to identify 5 things you see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you like to taste. The 54321 is a top-rated activity of all anxiety activities for kids.
Encourage your child to maintain an emotions journal. Ask them to write out how they feel. Younger children may not be able to write down, but they can certainly draw emoji faces to express their feelings.
3.9. Water Therapy
A glass of water immediately relaxes your mind, and the process of drinking gives you a breather from the chaotic mind. Water has that amazing soothing quality. Not just drinking but even a splash in the pool or water tub play has a calming effect.
Exercising releases endorphins that make you feel better. So any quick form of exercise is suggested for kids like jumping jacks, skipping ropes, cartwheels, or hop-skip-jump. Some stretching and yoga poses work great for anxiety. An intense exercise activity helps lower anxiety levels.
3.11. Blowing Bubbles
Blowing bubbles is one of the most fun activities amongst anxiety activities for kids. It is a great option to say bye-bye to all your fears and worries. It does help in a great way to reduce anxiety levels. When blowing bubbles, you focus on your breathing which lowers anxiety levels.
3.12. Listening to Stories
With technology now, we have various options for listening to stories. In that moment of anxiety, your child may not be able to read a story, but listening to a fun, uplifting story in a soothing voice can prove to be therapeutic.
3.14. Pop Bubble Wrap
As easy as it sounds, the bubble wrap you get with a package can indeed be a great stress buster. When you pop the bubbles in a row, it gives quick gratification. The muscle tension gets released when you pop bubbles, and hence it gives a good feeling to your brain.
3.13. Glitter Jar
Glitter Jar gives time to the child to calm down and gain back control. Watching and observing the glitter settling to the bottom of the jar is an excellent tool to get the child to present and forget the worries. Watching glitter settle down is like feeling like your worries are settling down. In fact, not only observing but making a glitter jar is also a wonderful activity.
3.15. Relaxing Massage
When you are anxious and under stress, your body holds tension around the neck, shoulders, and back. You can give a gentle massage that can release the tension and make your child feel relaxed and calm. Also, foot massage can be relaxing as it improves blood circulation as well.
4. Things to Note at the End
This is just a guide on anxiety activities for kids. Each child is different and different things work with different kids. You will have to observe patiently, give time, and figure out what works best for your child.
4.1. Address Issues at the Right Time
Anxiety issues can interfere with your child’s development. Your child could be intelligent, and extremely good at certain things, but anxiety issues can make your child more frustrated if not addressed at the right time.
Early intervention is paramount for stopping it from getting worse. It would help if you recognized the warning signs of anxiety. As a parent, only you can identify the real issues. You have to communicate about everything with your child.
4.2. Ask and Share with Your Kids
You have to ask and share how the day went with each other. Communicating your fears and worries will give your confidence to your child that having fear and worries is normal.
4.3. Reward Your Kid’s Efforts
You need to acknowledge and reward efforts taken by your child. Support and make the process of learning. Emphasize the fact that learning and attempting are important and not the results.
4.4. Sleep Routine
Sound sleep is also extremely important. An anxious child may have difficulty falling asleep. Help your child with a good bedtime routine. Also, encourage healthy screen time habits.
4.5. Keep Them Emotionally Secure
Make your child feel emotionally secure. Have trust in your child’s abilities to handle a few tasks independently, which will boost confidence. Do not criticize or ridicule your child’s behavior. Doing so may be frustrating for your child.
4.6. Empower Your child with Every Little Thing
You need to guide and empower your child with life skills and tools, assuring they can pass through this successfully.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help if an expert’s intervention is required. Remember, anxiety can be treated. What is important is you, as a parent, have to be patient and composed enough to help your child effectively.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
5.1. What are anxiety activities?
Anxiety activities are small activities for minimizing the general or severe anxiety caused by any incident or while performing a task.
5.2. Why do we teach children about anxiety?
We need to teach children about anxiety because it will help them to know that every difficult situation can be tackled. They should not be scared as they are not alone in dealing with the problem and are brave enough to handle it.
5.3. How do the anxiety activities help kids?
Anxiety activities may act as a helping hand for kids to manage anxiety when they face a hard time. These activities will not erase but will help in minimizing the anxiety.
5.4. What is the easiest activity to follow when a kid facing anxiety?
The fastest and easiest way to manage anxiety will be to distract the kid with the most approachable activity possible. For example- take them for a walk, play with them, play their favorite music, or let them do an activity that they want to do.