Lifestyle & Wellness,  Motherhood

How to Reduce Children’s Anxiety: Improved Mental Health for Your Kids in 5 Easy Steps

Did you know that the Surgeon General has actually declared an emergency because childhood mental disorders including anxiety and depression are up 40% since last year. How. Sad. Is. That. Our children are supposed to be carefree, beautiful little souls, but it’s a hard world to be living in right now. I’ve dug deep into childhood psychology to bring you 5 Easy Ways to Improved Mental Health for your littles. I’m going to share what I found about how to reduce children’s anxiety. This goes for kids of all ages, up until teenage years. It can also be used for teens, but some things may need to be edited a little bit.


When the whole lock down started in 2020, people sort of went crazy. Everyone stayed inside, didn’t see their friends and families and it was weird. At first it was just weird, but then it started to get unhealthy. As humans, we are created to live in community. We’re not created to be alone. Ever wonder why cute little Italian people live so long? It’s because they live in community. They drink coffee together, read newspapers together, and walk the hills together. While I obviously understand that some people can’t be with their friends and family at this time, you have to realize the mental toll it’s taking on children.

how to reduce children's anxiety

1. Crash Time

Ever notice that kids are extremely happy when they’re rough-housing, running around like maniacs, bumping into each other and wrestling? That’s because scientifically, they need that outlet. They need a physical outlet, but not just running around. They need a “crash” element. One of the first things you can do to help them regulate hard emotions is something that we like to call Crash Time.

Benefits of Crash Time: How to Reduce Children’s Anxiety with Motion

  • It helps regulate emotions. Kids don’t know how to regulate their own emotions yet and therefore don’t know how to reduce children’s own anxiety. Ever wonder why when they’re mad, they throw things or scream? They’re learning emotional regulation.
  • It allows for a mood reset. When we’re having tantrums or a lot of bickering, crazy couch time is always the answer. The kids have even started asking for it when they feel themselves getting out of control.
  • Good for physical activity when it’s freezing or rainy outside. Though we try to get outside for 30 minutes every single day, even when it’s cold, some days, we just don’t make it out.
  • Encourages children to learn their own physical limits. Did you know that kids will intentionally do things that are just slightly out of their physical abilitues? (All of you moms are saying YEAH DUH! haha) This allows them to do that in a safe environment and explore those physical capabilities without me saying “be careful” constantly.

How to Do Crash Time

It may not work for you to let your kids jump on your couch, but this can be moved to any location. Let them run into the couch, put pillows on the floor to jump on, use a bean bag or pile up some blankets on the floor.

how to reduce children's anxiety

2. How to Reduce Children’s Anxiety with Outdoor Time

It is commonly believed that nature has a positive impact on children and teens’ mental health, and there’s finally a study to prove it! In 50% of the students with ADHD/ADD, they exhibited overall better mental wellbeing and focus when faced with a task.

This is going to start to be easier and easier as the weather is starting to warm up. Get those kids out in nature, get them out in the sun to absorb vitamin D and watch how their mood changes.

Personally, morning is one of the times when we have the toughest, grumpiest kids (they never sleep in lol). When the weather is nice, like 45 degrees or above, we spend the whole morning on the front porch. We spend time talking, playing I Spy, count the cars, count the birds, digging holes, making potions. You name it and they’re doing it while we enjoy our morning coffee together as a family. These have become some of my favorite memories.

I’m so glad we decided to put our porch on this house when we did our renovation!

how to reduce children's anxiety

3. Creative Time

I can’t tell you the amount of times Evie asks me “can you think of an activity for us??” and I just get out all her arts and crafts supplies and let her go crazy. While my husband hates the glitter (haha), I don’t mind it. I can see her little brain working hard to make unique creations! We are even planning an “art show” for her to show her art work to our friends and family. She is so excited and feels so special!

Here is a study about how creative writing helped people recover from mental illness. If it helped them, I can imagine how much creative play and creative time can help kids with their mental health!

Ideas for Creative Time

  • Find a craft on Pinterest to do together
  • Paint a canvas together
  • Collect things from nature and glue them to a piece of cardboard
  • Paint rocks
  • Floor is Lava
  • Make potions
how to reduce children's anxiety

4. Cuddle Time

You’ll notice that we’re basically trying to fill all the love languages here. A list of how to reduce children’s anxiety wouldn’t be complete without these things, quality time and physical touch. These are typically the top two love languages for children. While this isn’t true for everyone, what kid doesn’t want some extra time or snuggles from mom and dad.

My now 5-year-old was the least cuddly kid and she still is. She is always on the go. She’s always got somewhere to be or another activity to do or another craft to finish. But if she’s struggling, there’s nothing she wants more than to sit and snuggle with mom or dad. The calmness of a parent’s heartbeat just makes all the difference in calming a little one’s anxiety.

How to Reduce Children’s Anxiety by Cuddling?

  • Cuddle time promotes a strong emotional bond between you and your kids
  • Reduces loneliness.
  • Boosts your immune system and theirs.
  • Promotes trust between you and your child allowing them to come to you when they’re not feeling well

Did you know there’s actually a cuddle cafe in Japan where people PAY to be cuddled. A huge hug can make people feel so many important emotions, mainly eliciting endorphins and oxytocin in the brain which is the anti-anxiety hormone. Any pregnant mamas out there? Oxytocin is one of the main necessary hormones when trying to go into labor. Not only is cuddling great for kids, but many would even argue that it’s vital to their well-being. Cuddling improves overall health and bodily functions!

5. Special Time

Another love language here! Learn how to reduce children’s anxiety by using special quality time. My personal love language is Quality Time, so I completely understand this one. If someone is sitting with me, but we’re watching tv or they’re on their phone during the entire time we’re at dinner, that doesn’t fill my love tank at all. I need undivided attention and I need intentional attention. Say that ten times fast haha! I notice that my daughter is the same way. She wants your undivided attention and she wants to do something special.

For this reason, we try to plan regular mommy daughter dates and father daughter dates. This allows each of us to get special undivided time with her. When you have three kids, it can get hard to give dedicated attention among the chaos. It’s important to be intentional.

When you show children that you value your time with them, they start to realize that they are valuable. You’re showing them that they’re worth your attention and that means everything in the world to them!

how to reduce children's anxiety

Conclusion

I hope this list of how to reduce children’s anxiety was as helpful for you as it was for me. As I dive into content for you, I always learn more! In order to decrease anxiety and improve mental health, we need to be there to fill all of our child’s sensory receptors. While I’m not a doctor, I will say that these things have worked for us as a family. I can tell when my daughter hasn’t had enough one on one time with me. Her mental health and therefore her behavior are much worse. Take not of how your kids behave when you fill these needs for them on a daily basis.

As with everything, there are times when further care will be necessary and holistic approaches won’t be sufficient. That decision is for you to make for your family and your child.

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