Recognising and responding to anxiety

This page explores anxiety: what it is and how we might recognise it in ourselves and the children and young people in our care.

Try breathing exercises

When your child’s worries come up, try taking some deep breaths together. There are lots of different breathing methods you can try, such as finger breathing, star breathing or box breathing. Explore these together with your child.

Visualise a safe, happy place

Try visualising with your child a safe, happy place in their mind. Tell them they can imagine this place when they are feeling anxious. Younger children can draw their safe place as a visual reminder. A cuddle can help soothe them even more when they are thinking of their safe place.

Keep a worry book

Help your child to write or draw anxious thoughts in their own worry book. A box or jar can work well, too. From time to time, take out the worries and talk about them. See how they feel about them once some time has passed. A ritual of ripping up worries when they have been dealt with can be powerful.

Stay active

An important part of managing anxiety is keeping active. Exercise and movement, along with a healthy diet, helps to keep stress hormones down for everyone.

Minimise upsetting content

It is important to keep children – particularly those with a tendency to be anxious – away from violent or scary content in shows, films and games. It’s also important to check the amount of distressing news children watch, listen to or read.

Explore these ideas with the child in your care. It might be helpful to make a list of your favourites and hang it up where you can all see it.