Activities to help soothe your child when they’re worried or anxious

If your child feels worried or anxious, you can help them to learn some techniques to feel calmer and more in control.

Try some of the methods below. Practise them over time with your child when they need a bit of extra help. Be available to talk to your child about their worries and how calming activities can help.

Breathe in ‘threes’: 30-second activity

This breathing exercise helps quieten anxious thoughts. Practise it together with your child, and talk about when it might be useful to breathe like this.

  • Breathe in slowly for the count of three
  • Hold your breath for the count of three.
  • Breathe out slowly for the count of three.

    Your child can repeat this as many times as they like until they feel calmer.

    Recognise what’s going well: two-minute activity

    When we worry, we often imagine all the bad things that might happen. This exercise helps your child stay present by remembering safe or comforting thoughts.

    Ask your child to name or write down:

    • One thing that’s going well for them right now.
    • Two people they can count on for a warm hug or kind word.
    • Three things they’re looking forward to.

      The circle of control: five-minute activity

      Practising the circle of control can help limit which thoughts become worries.

      Ask your child to draw a circle on a piece of paper. Inside the circle, write down “Things I can control”. For example:

      • What I wear.
      • What I choose to read or watch online.
      • Washing my hands to stay safe.

      Outside the circle, get your child to write “Things I can’t control.” For example:

      • The weather.
      • What other people post online.
      • How my friends or family feel.

      You can find more ideas for supporting your child with anxious feelings in our mental health and wellbeing section.

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      This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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