20 Calming Anxiety Activities for Kids
Many mental health professionals often get concerns from parents or guardians regarding anxiety in children. Treating this condition in children can be especially challenging in and outside of therapy. It needs to be engaging and educational, but also supportive, relaxing, and calming — all at the same time.
One of the best ways to keep kids engaged in treatment for anxiety is by having them do calming anxiety activities. There are many anxiety activities for kids that can help reduce their distressing symptoms.
Calming Anxiety Activities for Kids
When thinking of activities for kids with anxiety, it’s best to find a good balance of fun and relaxation for your child. This will help reduce the emotional and physical symptoms they may feel during an anxious experience.
Here are some that you can try:
1. Make relaxation stones
Taking acrylic paint and large smooth stones, have your child make relaxation stones. They can paint pictures or designs that are calming to them. After the paint dries, spray the stones with a clear gloss to protect their artwork. Encourage your child to take their relaxation stone with them. It can be a source of comfort, particularly for children who have social anxiety.
2. Use your imagination
Kids have a great imagination, so take advantage of it when they’re having anxious thoughts or feelings. Ask your child to imagine themselves as a superhero and choose their favorite powers. Then, have them draw themselves as their superhero identity and write a newspaper story about what they’ve done to help the world. This can make a child feel more positive about themselves, and it can be considered a form of positive self-talk.
3. Calming jars
Another fun and relaxing activity that kids love is making “calming jars.” Demonstrate to your child how to create their own calming jar by taking some warm water, glitter glue, and glitter and mixing it up in a jar. Secure the lid before shaking the jar and watching the glitter settle to the bottom. It is incredibly relaxing and soothing just to see the glitter swirling in the water. Ask your child to practice deep breathing as they observe the calming jar. This will help them calm down even more.
4. Build a “calm down” kit
An anti-anxiety or a “calm down” kit is a container that includes comforting objects that your child likes. You can decorate a shoebox or repurpose an old-school metal lunchbox for this. Add pictures of your family, their favorite toy, handwritten notes from you, your child’s favorite snack, and even a stress ball.
5. Use an anxiety thermometer
An anxiety thermometer is a tool that kids can use to determine their level of anxiety. It helps to know exactly how anxious they are so that they can use the appropriate response. Some may feel stressed, nervous, or worried while other children might have severe symptoms that make them feel frantic, out of control, and panicked. Such guides help you recognize the way your child acts and how you can help them calm down from their anxiety.
6. Make a worry box
Children often feel as though they are being controlled by their anxious thoughts, making them feel helpless. By creating a worry box, parents, guardians, and teachers can help kids allot a space for their worries. This works by writing the worry on a piece of paper, placing it in the box, and committing to address it at a later time. Children can also do the same using a worry jar worksheet. This helps them gain a sense of control over their anxiety, and they may feel braver talking about it later on.
7. Make a collage
Making a collage is a simple yet fun process that allows children to flex their creative muscles, all while maintaining a sense of calm. Have them cut out pieces from old magazines, newspapers, and other printed materials to create a collage that makes them feel happy and safe.
Exercise is not only good for your physical health but it does wonders for your mental health as well. Kids can do any kind of exercise they want to relieve stress. It doesn’t have to be a complicated type of exercise. Throwing and catching a frisbee, skipping rope, swimming, or even just walking around the neighborhood are some activities for anxious kids that can help reduce anxiety symptoms.
9. Mindfulness activities
One of the most popular activities for children with anxiety is practicing mindfulness. This type of meditation allows children to be focused on the present moment using their five senses without interpretation or judgment. As your child does this, guide their mindfulness activity by prompting them to breathe deeply. This helps with focus, slowing down rapid thoughts, and easing worries.
10. Have a happy brain and a worry brain
This is a fun activity that will help children visualize their worries and get them under control. Using a flashlight, project your child’s shadow onto a large piece of paper and trace it twice. Label one “happy brain” and label the other “worry brain.” Have your child write or collage their worries onto the worry brain and place things that make them happy into the happy brain.
Journaling is a great way to express yourself without filtering your thoughts. The page of a journal can act as your child’s safe space, where they can write about their worries, free of judgment. They can also write what makes them feel grateful. If your child isn’t comfortable with expressing themselves using words, then encourage them to draw in their journal — doodles and scribbles included.
12. Coping statements for anxiety
Coping statements for anxiety are things you say to yourself to calm down. These statements can also encourage you to get through an anxious situation. Using a guided worksheet with coping statements listed can help your child navigate their anxiety. In the empty thought bubbles, your child can also write down more positive things they can say to themselves when they are anxious.
13. Make a video
Using your iPad, phone, or tablet, record something creative to get your child’s mind off their anxiety! Your child can choose whether they’d like to record a skit, a step-by-step relaxation video for other kids, or practice sessions of them facing their anxious thoughts or fears. After recording the video, they can play it back and either have fun with it or learn more about managing their anxiety.
14. Draw a comic strip
Drawing a comic strip is a fun little activity because it puts your child’s imagination to work. They are essentially creating a visual piece of storytelling. Have your child draw a comic strip about something funny that happened in their lives. This will help them think a little more positively and reduce their anxiety as they create their funny comic strip.
15. Make a checklist
Sometimes, anxiety can feel like an overwhelming snowball that just keeps growing and growing. By using an anxiety symptoms checklist, it becomes easier for you and your child to identify what emotions are triggering the anxiety. After developing this awareness, it can be easier to manage the anxiety later on.
16. Squeeze a stress ball
If your child has separation anxiety at school, then having something physical to hold and put their anxious energy into can be helpful. Stress balls are perfect for this type of challenge. You can create your own by filling a balloon with flour, rice, or play dough using a small funnel. Tie the end tightly and be sure to wrap it inside another balloon for security. Any time your child feels anxious, especially at school, they can take it out on the stress ball.
Coloring is one of the most relaxing activities for anybody with anxiety, especially children. It doesn’t require any effort but also encourages a level of focus. It also gives younger kids an opportunity to practice their fine motor skills. It boosts creativity as well. When kids color, they decide how they want their artwork to look. Feeling in charge of yourself and what you are creating is the perfect antidote to anxiety.
18. Changing negative thoughts to positive ones
Another one of the activities to help with anxiety is changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts. This involves identifying negative thoughts and then coming up with positive thoughts one can have instead. Doing this helps kids overcome negative thinking that often accompanies anxiety. Children can express themselves more positively and overcome negative thought patterns that feed into their anxious state of mind.
19. Butterflies in the belly
Parents, guardians, or teachers can help children with this activity. Cut up several paper butterflies in different sizes. Ask your child about the physical sensations they feel when they are anxious and worried, including the butterflies they feel in their belly. Have them write down their stressors on the butterflies, with the sizes corresponding to big or small worries. After this, talk to them about how to catch the butterflies in a net so that they don’t have to worry about them.
20. Make slime
Slime is an excellent way for kids to create something super fun and just forget about their anxious thoughts and feelings. Find a slime recipe online, follow the instructions, and just have fun! You can add colors to the slime and even essential oils such as lavender to make it smell prettier. Just a few minutes of playing around with slime can bring down anxiety.
Help Your Kids Beat Anxiety with These Fun Activities
Having fun activities for anxiety can help children cope with the symptoms, such as worrying thoughts, shortness of breath, and the fear of anticipation. These activities can distract children and give them opportunities to spend time in a positive way while also thinking positive thoughts.
Anxiety may be persistent, but there are many ways to tackle it. These activities are just some ways you can do just that.