Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Managing children’s anxiety:

Practical strategies to help your child manage anxiety from a psychologist & mum.
By Lynn Jenkins
Date: June 10 2014
Tags: anxious kids,
Editor Rating:

When it comes to helping our children manage their anxiety, our role as parents is to guide them in adopting a certain attitude towards their worry feelings, to give them some skills to manage their anxious symptoms and to ultimately help them to understand that they have the skills to manage it themselves.

Everyone can relate at least to worry feelings. For some little ones this is all anxiety will get to but for other kids, it will go beyond that and turn into something that could have the potential to interrupt their life in bigger ways.

That is why an early intervention approach is the absolute best!

If our kids are prone to getting anxiety, it’s better to think, 'Ok this is something I’m going to have to learn to manage, as opposed to, this is something I want to get rid of'.

From here, we need to notice when they are feeling anxious. If we know our little ones and we know their signs of anxiety, we can say things like: 'It looks like you might be worrying a little bit at the moment'.

At this point, it would be great if they would say:  'Yes I am, please help me through it'.  But there is a good chance they won’t!

Instead they might display some of the behaviours that tend to go with feeling anxious – irritability, agitation, crying and pushing you away.  If you know your child may be feeling anxious at the bottom of it all, give them some time and try not to get entangled in the behaviour they are displaying.

The first and foremost aim in managing anxiety is to calm the body down. 

The best way to calm down is breathing properly, and that is slow, deep breaths through the nose.  Getting the breath right down to the bottom of the lungs is the key. 

So after noticing your child is anxious or, more ideally, starting to get anxious, you can say things like: 

  • 'How about we sit down and have a cuddle for a little while?' And while sitting together you can breathe together
  • Perhaps provide guidance by saying things like:  'Breathing is always good to make our body feel better.  Let’s breathe in slowly through our nose, fill our tummies and let it out.  As you breathe I’ll count. Breathe in 2, 3, 4, and breathe out 3, 4, 5, 6.' 
  • After breathing for a bit, soothing talk can be used.  This involves saying statements that will calm rather than continue to create chaos in the body.  Statements like:  'It's OK; You will be OK; You can get through this; This feeling will pass; You are safe.'

Once kids are calm, then we can start to talk to them about their anxiety, what might’ve been happening to make them anxious and also what they did to manage it. 

So basically, what anxious chatter was in their heads? They might not give us a lot, but we can assume that they were thinking something and we can say general statements like: 'Sometimes our thoughts chatter away to us to make us feel a bit funny in the body; make us worked up a bit'

You can then help to increase their awareness about their anxious body by asking things like: 'What did you notice happening in your bodyDid you notice your tummy getting butterflies? What did you notice in your arms and legs? Did you just feel a bit sickWhat was happening in your head?'

Then you can shift them over to focussing on what they did and can do to manage their anxious chatter.  Reinforce the use of breathing and soothing self-talk.  You can also ask questions like: 

  • 'What do you think you could’ve said to yourself to help you stop worrying?' 
  • And then something like:  'Perhaps we can brainstorm some ideas together'.

Ultimately when it comes to anxiety it is crucial for us to know what anxiety is and to observe our little ones for when they might be becoming anxious.

We need to ask ourselves: 'How would I react to my child if he or she was scared?' This is to put us in a more appropriate mindset to help them rather than us getting caught up in our own anxiety about them being anxious.

The aim is to help calm our kids down and have effective ‘go to’s’ such as breathing and soothing messages (self-talk). It is only when they are calm, that we can talk to them about their feelings, so that they can learn more and more about their anxiety and how to manage it.

Share This Tweet This Email To Friend
Related Articles
Psychologist and author, Lynne Jenkins, says mother's guilt is very…
Read more
Mums born after 1980 are more relaxed and flexible.
Read more
Helping our kids to cope well with life could be…
Read more
Even for those kids who do play sport, it's not…
Read more
Cry babies

Dry your eyes!
The newest additions are on their way from the Babies who cry real tears!


Latest Tech Used In Shipping Containers
Read how the shipping industry has revolutionised

Motherpedia cover-2

Win 1 set of a 4-book hardcover illustrated boxed set
Barbara Murray’s new 4-book Sound Stories is perfect for parents and educators and could assist with NAPLAN results

Motherpedia cover (4)

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest Australia
Get ready for this celebration!

Motherpedia cover-4

A Fortnight of Foodie Experiences at East Village
A taste of East Village. What's in it for me?

Globber my too fix up cover

We Try: Globber My TOO Fix Up
A scooter that grows with your child

Throw a winning cricket pitch

3 Steps to a Winning Backyard Cricket Pitch
Ex-Adelaide Oval legend curator Les Burdett shares his tips for getting your backyard cricket pitch test match ready this summer

A bike that follows your kids life cycle - motherpedia - cover

A Bike That Follows Your Kids Life Cycle
Check out the Bunzi 2-in-1 gradual balance bike!

Moonlight lifestyle

Moonlight Cinema to bring…
Moonlight Cinema announces brand new Western Sydney venue

Screen shot 2019-11-26 at 8.29.12 am

Your Magical Christmas Wonderland…
Adventure park is about to light up the night sky with its "Christmas Festival of Lights"

Screen shot 2019-11-21 at 11.11.36 am

The Preston Market Gets…
It's time to feel pumped up for the holiday season!


Bunnings team members get…
Help raise funds by buying a snag or donating at your local store.