Activities to help manage children’s anxieties

anxieties worried look
  • Keeping a calm box or similar for children/young people to use before or just after starting school. This could include anything that helps to calm your child. That could be sensory toys, colouring or favourite teddies.
  • Deep and slow breathing using the diaphragm, place hands on tummy and watch them move or lie down and place a teddy on your child’s tummy, get them to focus on it moving up and down. You could also get your child to blow bubbles to calm their breathing. 
  • Sucking, chewing and crunching: Drinking something through a straw, crunching vegetables etc.
  • Bouncing or rhythmic activity: Jumping on a mini trampoline, star jumps, drumming, marching, rocking chair, dancing.
  • Listening to calm music or poetry
  • Sensory play such as fidget toys, stress balls, sand and water.
  • Heavy pushing, carrying or pulling activities
  •  Social Stories (Carol Gray) with children and young people to ease anxiety and prepare for changes to routine. These are short descriptions of a particular situation, or event which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why. Creating a social story about ‘Returning to School’ might be very helpful.

 Use of books/stories: to teach children and young people coping skills

  • ‘The Invisible String’ by Patrice Karst’: is a good tool for helping younger children to cope with separation anxiety specifically.
  • The series of workbooks ‘Starving the Anxiety Gremlin’ by Kate Collins-Donnelly: are also useful and offer ideas and activities for younger children and teenagers.
  • ‘Beyond Words’ books to help children express their own thoughts without words being provided.
  • More general books around worries: could also be used including ‘My Huge Bag of Worries’ by Virginia Ironside and ‘What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide for Overcoming Anxiety’ by Dawn Huebner.

Further information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) talking to your children about the virus (link opens in new window)