12 Ways to Calm an Anxious Child

Support referrals for children with anxiety has increased by 45% since the beginning of the pandemic. Experts predict that these increases will rise by a further 11% year on year for the next three years. How can you help your child to feel calm at home and relieve anxious thoughts and feelings? We’ve listed 12 ways below.


  1. Deep Breathing

Ask your child to put their hand on their belly and tell them that when they breathe in, their breath will push their hand out. Tell them to breathe in for a count of four, then hold their breath for a count of four. Then breathe out slowly through their nose.


  1. Create a Quiet Zone

Create a dedicated ‘quiet zone’ in your house. This can be a corner with books, cushions, blankets and teddies. When you child is feeling anxious or they want to remove themselves from an anxious situation, they can escape to their quiet zone.


  1. Positive Affirmations

We say affirmations as adults – there’s no reason why your children can’t too! Start with the obvious ‘I am calm,’ ‘I am brave,’ ‘I am strong,’ ‘I can overcome anything,’ – ask them to repeat after you or come up with their own!


  1. Lead by Example

Talk about mental health and your own feelings. Conversations go two ways, if you want your child to discuss their fears and emotions and be open with you, you need to do the same. Make the following question normal – ‘What did we worry about today and what can we do about it tomorrow?’


  1. Grounding

Grounding is a technique that allows a distressed child to ‘return to the room,’ by looking at objects around them or becoming more aware of their senses. You can find techniques online or in our ‘Panic Attacks,’ booklet.


  1. Cuddle

Perhaps the most obvious one to reassure any anxious child is cuddle often! Cuddles release feel good hormones and brain chemicals – it’s hard to be sad or worried when you feel safe in someone’s arms.


  1. Wind Down

Invest in the importance of winding down. Before bed time this is especially beneficial – put away screens and dim the lights, have some quiet time or do a mindfulness exercise before they go to sleep. Our ‘body scan’ exercise in our ‘Mindful Monsters,’ booklet is a great wind down exercise to in bed.


  1. Reach for a Teddy

We know that most children feel instantly calmed when cuddling their favourite teddy. Have your child tell their worries and fears to their teddy before bedtime.


  1. Ask Them What Helps

Every child is different and they may have something that makes them feel calm that you can do next time they are feeling anxious. Is it cuddling a teddy, painting, walking – explore the options and find their calm!


  1. Don’t Overload Them

Life is SO busy these days. Add in COVID and lockdown and it can be very overwhelming. Try not to overload their schedules. And if you try to talk to them about something but they don’t feel like it or they’re feeling tired – don’t force them! Take your lead from them.


  1. Reassure

But don’t sugar coat – be as up front with your child as possible and use simple, concise words they understand. Sugar coating or not explaining things properly can cause them to become even more confused. Let them know that you are their safe place and that they can talk with you openly without judgment.


  1. Talk Openly

Not just when the child is feeling anxious – but make talking about feelings a priority at all times. Talking openly about emotions and situations will mean a child will learn to be open with you when they are feeling distressed or anxious.


You can find resources to help with all of the above in the Be Happy Hub!


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