Life can be really challenging when you’re young, because there are so many things that are happening for the first time – new schools, new friends, new interpersonal situations, new homework challenges and more! These can all feed our worries, and lead to anxiety in kids.
We can’t expect that anxiety will vanish completely from a child’s life, but we can equip a child with tools, techniques and insights to cope with anxiety as and when it arises.
At Cosmic Kids, we equip kids with the practical tools to help them with anxiety. These include anxiety-busting activities - ways of supporting children to think about how our brains work, as well as using stories which introduce how anxiety can arise and how to overcome it.
Developing an understanding of anxious feelings is important, and so we have created a range of techniques, breathing exercises, activities, audio episodes and more so that you can find a solution that is a good fit for how many children may be feeling.
Here’s a selection of ways to help kids deal with anxiety and anxious feelings. These are tried and tested methods, used by thousands of children daily. Try them at your leisure and find a solution that may help:
1. Helpful Concept: Be The Pond
Be The Pond is a useful way of thinking about our feelings and how we are separate from them. Feelings come and go - and we can observe them - without getting swept up by them. There's a really clever way of remembering this: our mind is like a pond full of fish. The fish are our feelings. If we remember to Be The Pond (and not the fish), we'll let those feelings just swim by.
Develop an understanding of feelings including anxiousness in this calming video episode, and try applying the 'Be the Pond!' mantra when feeling a wave of anxiety.
2. Breathing Exercises: Finger Breathing
Breathing gives us an anchor, taking us away from our (often) imagined problems and worries that develop into strong feelings. Effective breathing techniques are key to helping to manage feelings of anxiety. This is because children who are anxious tend to take short breaths, using only a small amount of their lung capacity. For adults, the 5-5-5 rule is often used to control anxiety with deep breathing (breathe in for 5 seconds, and out for 5 seconds, repeat). For children, focusing their concentration only on breathing can be a challenge, which is why we have made this exercise engaging, as well as calming.
From our How to Deal With Nerves video in our Zen Den (Mindfulness) series, here’s a breathing exercise you can use today with your child. Finger breathing. This is a great way of taking your attention away from your worries to something as simple as breathing.
Audio relaxations are a brilliant way of easing tension that can arise when kids feel anxious. Reducing heart rate, and getting cosy and calm is a wonderful antidote to a racing mind. Coupling relaxation with imaginative stories and visualisations takes you away from your worries into kinder more peaceful worlds.
Try our Peace Out series (guided relaxations for kids) for this when your little one is experiencing feelings of anxiousness. Here’s a lovely one – Balloon – where Jaime leads us on a guided visualisation where we imagine we are a balloon drifting up above the world. Wonderful!
4. Anchoring: Happy Place
Anchoring is the idea that we can create regular access to positive, grounding ideas whenever we need them. For example: where are you when you are happiest? Imagine you can call that image up, and go there (in your mind) whenever you need - to ease your anxiety. Try it! Is yours your favourite beach, in your bed, with your pet? It's up to you.
We explore this tool in Finding Your Happy Place, one of our Zen Den series – equipping kids to simply drop in to their happy place in their minds whenever they need it.
5. Try a Body Scan: The Body Scan Meditation | Cosmic Kids: Zen Den
One of the foundations of mental health is awareness. That’s why the body scan exercise is such a powerful tool for resetting yourself if you're feeling anxious. As far as ‘meditation’ practices go, this one is great because you can actually feel it working. Plus you come out the other end in a super calm, peaceful and connected place. The littlest ones might find this a challenge - so tell them before they start, this might be one they find tricky…teeing it up as a challenge can often help kids lift their game and want to give it a go! Especially when you do it with them!
6. Building Awareness of Thinking: Thought Bubbles
Kids can get stuck in their thinking (and so can grown-ups…) so it’s good to help kids develop awareness of their patterns and remind them that their thoughts come and go. You aren’t your thoughts – they are just something that arises and passes. Like everything! Using the idea of thought bubbles – putting your thoughts/worries into thought bubbles – and seeing them float past and even POP is a great way of doing this.
Thinking of thoughts and feelings in this way can be an effective way for children to apply this as a coping mechanism when experiencing anxiety
7. Mantras and Positive Thinking: Popcorn the Dolphin
"Stay calm, keep breathing, think positive!" A phrase like this which is reassuring and easy to access when you need it can really remind ourselves how to be in an emotional emergency. It’s actually quite simple to encourage positive thinking by using phrases like this. In Popcorn the Dolphin, one of our yoga adventures, Popcorn introduces this phrase and it comes up again and again as we face a series of challenges. Each time we need it, we return to the phrase.
What could your mantra be? Or your child’s? In this clip, Jaime (in Dolphin Pose!) introduces the mantra for the first time.
8. Actively Leave Your Worries Behind: Build a Magic Worry Box
Actively listing worries and deciding to leave them behind is a simple and light way of reducing anxiety for kids. Just ask them to list their worries and carefully dispose them in the Magic Worry Box. Here’s how to build a Magic Worry Box.
9. Listen to a Guided Relaxation: Bye Bye Boat
For those that prefer listening rather than building, try our guided relaxation where we imagine a Bye Bye Boat coming to pick up our worries and take them away. Anxiety easing for kids who prefer to sit back and listen!
I look after the writing and performance side of our videos - making the yoga and mindfulness fun and silly, as well as safe. I also manage our social media, and look after the community of independent teachers who
do our training. It's amazing how things have grown and I love coming up with new ideas, having fun with it, and seeing where we can take Cosmic Kids next.
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