Mighty Blog

Five ways to help kids deal with anxiety

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety, nervousness, tension, and stress from time to time. Here are five strategies that can help both you and your child deal with anxious feelings.

Also available in Spanish.

Become a relaxation expert.

We all think we know how to relax, but spending time in front of the TV or computer isn’t true relaxation. Depending on what you’re watching or doing, screen time could even make you more tense! The same is true for alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. They may seem to relieve anxiety or stress at the time, but it’s a false state of temporary relaxation.

What your body really needs is daily practice of a relaxation technique that you enjoy. Activities like deep breathing, tai chi, or yoga have a physical effect on the mind. Simply deep breathing can help relax a major nerve that runs from the diaphragm to the brain, which sends a message to your entire body to let go and loosen up.

Teen girl experiencing anxiety

Take care of your body.

Want your mind and body to feel peaceful and strong enough to handle life’s ups and downs?

  • Get the right amount of sleep for your needs — not too much or too little. This can be different for every body, but most teens need 8-10 hours.
  • Eat well. Choose fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains for long-term energy (instead of the short bursts that come from too much sugar or caffeine).
  • Exercise to send oxygen to all of the cells in your body so your brain and body can operate at their best.

Spend time with loved ones.

Spend time with friends or family. Organized activities like sports or after-school clubs and activities are great, but just hanging out works just as well! Doing things with people we feel close to deepens our bonds and helps us to feel supported and secure. And it will make us feel happier and less upset about things. If you feel worried or nervous about something, talking about it with someone who listens and cares can help you feel understood and will help you cope with feelings of stress or anxiety. You’ll be reminded that everyone has these feelings sometimes and you are not alone!

Connect with nature.

Heading out for a walk in the park or a hike in the woods can help you feel peaceful and grounded. Be sure to choose somewhere you feel safe so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings. Walking, hiking or trail biking offer the additional benefit of exercise. Invite friends or family members with to enjoy feeling connected to people as well.

Pay attention to the good things.

A great way to keep your mind off the worry track is to focus your thoughts on things that are good, beautiful and positive. Allow yourself to dream, wish and imagine the best that could happen.

When to seek medical help

When anxiety or worry feels extreme, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. For someone who has an anxiety disorder, getting proper care from a health professional is important. These tips can help too, of course. But professional treatment is the only way to help an anxiety disorder.

At Children’s Minnesota, our team of psychologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, nurse practitioners who are board certified pediatric mental health specialists and social workers is experienced in treating behavioral problems in children. And we focus on treatments that have been proven effective through research. Our clinicians are trained and experienced in using the most current diagnostic tools and interventions in behavioral pediatrics. Learn more about behavioral health care at Children’s.

Kaitlyn Kamleiter