11 Essential Skills for Kids Who Worry

We all work with students who worry. Helping kids overcome worries starts with skill building. When we can help kids understand what worry feels like and sounds like, we can help them make positive changes to overcome worries. Keep reading to find the 11 essentials skills I teach to help kids deal with worry.

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Help Kids Deal with Worry with These 11 Essential Skills:

Help kids deal with worry with these 11 essential worry-management skills. Teach them in classroom guidance, small group, or individual counseling!

1. Body Awareness

A racing heart or excessive sweating can be pretty scary when we don’t know what’s causing it! Tuning in to their bodies is so helpful for kids when they can recognize signs of worry. There’s power in body awareness when kids can say, “When I was worried, my heart was pounding and my stomach felt sick,” or “My throat feels tight. My worries are affecting my body.” This can take away some of the fear that results from these physical experiences. Practice drawing where in their bodies kids feel sensations when they’re worried.

Get in touch with your body and the clues it gives you! Help kids deal with worry with these 11 essential worry-management skills. Teach them in classroom guidance, small group, or individual counseling!

If they aren’t sure, help them keep a journal to look for patterns.

Track worries for maximum self awareness! Help kids deal with worry with these 11 essential worry-management skills. Teach them in classroom guidance, small group, or individual counseling!

2. Grounding & Breathing Strategies

Teach kids to use grounding strategies when they notice the physical signs of worry in their bodies. These techniques will help them to focus on the here and now, feel connected in the present moment, control their breathing, and calm their bodies. Need some help with grounding strategies? Read about 10 strategies you can teach your kids.

Help kids manage worry with these 10 grounding techniques! Students can use these strategies any time anywhere to cope with worry. Kids who need worry management skills? Practice these anxiety management strategies and techniques in your group counseling lessons or individual counseling sessions. Grounding exercises for school counseling activities. -Counselor Keri

In addition to grounding techniques, teach your students breathing exercises they can use in the moment when they feel worried. These breathing strategies can be simple seated exercises or you can teach them with art activities. Practice the breathing strategies and then give kids easy tracing cards or visual reminders of the breathing strategies that they can use anytime!

3. Trigger Awareness

Awareness of what events, places, or thoughts trigger worries is so important for kids to develop. When they have an understanding of the things that precipitate their worry thoughts, they can manage expectations or actions. For example, your student might notice that worry thoughts start when it’s time for math groups. When the student is aware of this, he can practice those breathing strategies or self-talk (discussed later) to help manage worries related to this triggering event.

Not sure what these triggers are? Go back to keeping a journal! Students write down their physical experiences related to worry or their worry thoughts and then identify what happened before those physical signs or thoughts started.

Track worries for maximum self awareness! Help kids deal with worry with these 11 essential worry-management skills. Teach them in classroom guidance, small group, or individual counseling!

4. Thought Awareness

Thinking about thinking can be a hard concept to grasp, but once students are aware of the thoughts running through their heads, they can start to address them! What are the thoughts I have? What am I telling myself? Being aware of thoughts helps kids understand the emotions and actions that follow in the chain reaction! Just being aware of the worry thoughts will give students an opportunity to stop, reframe, or challenge them.

Thought awareness: an essential skill for kids who worry! Help kids deal with worry with these 11 essential worry-management skills. Teach them in classroom guidance, small group, or individual counseling!

5. Thought Stopping

Thought-stopping is a challenging skill, even for some adults. But you can help your students develop this skill with these strategies:

  • When you notice the worry thought, say in your mind, “Stop! I don’t want this worry right now,” and actively try to think about something else that’s unrelated to the worry.
  • Snap your fingers to signal the stop of the thought
  • Imagine a big red stop sign in your mind
  • Picture your worry as a bug. Imagine yourself stepping on the bug to squash it and stop the worry
  • Imagine your worry as a balloon. Picture yourself popping the balloon with a pin to stop the worry
  • Get up, move around, and change activities to totally shift your body and your attention
  • Sing a song in your mind or aloud
  • Replay a memory of a time when you were successful
  • Set a timer to signal the end of “worry time”

6. Thought Reframing

Teach kids to reframe their worries in a way that gives them power! Instead of just using purely positive self-talk or reframing, help kids develop alternative thoughts that are realistic and highlight their power in the situation. Here’s an example:

  • Worry thought: I’m going to strike out.
  • Purely positive reframe: I’m an amazing player! I won’t strike out!
  • Believable and realistic reframe: I might strike out, but I also might get a hit. I will do my best.

Read more about helping kids reframe worries on this blog post.

Want to help kids deal with worry? Help them reframe worries in a way that sticks! Use this strategy in your individual or group counseling activities.

7. Thought Challenging

Challenge those worries to take away their power! Help kids learn to ask these questions:

  • Are there any other facts? Am I focusing on just one detail?
  • Has something like this happened in the past? How did it turn out?
  • Is there any evidence to prove this worry wrong?
  • Are there any other explanations for this? What else could explain this?
  • What’s the best thing that could happen right now? Is there anything good about it? Is this going to matter next year? Next week?

8. Thought Redirection

Teach kids to shift attention to something unrelated to the worry. Here are a few ideas:

  • replay a happy memory
  • focus on something you’re looking forward to
  • replay a favorite movie scene in your mind
  • imagine yourself as a superhero conquering something hard
  • picture your favorite calm place

Kids can also redirect their thoughts with positive action. Try these:

  • Write in a gratitude journal
  • Move your body! Do your favorite exercise
  • Get creative! Paint, draw, doodle, or color a mandala
  • Write a story or letter
Redirect thoughts: an essential skills for kids who worry! Help kids deal with worry with these 10 essential worry-management skills. Teach them in classroom guidance, small group, or individual counseling!

9. Realm of Control Awareness

An awareness of things that are in and out of our control is so important for everyone, especially kids who worry! Help kids differentiate between things that are in their control (i.e. their behavior, their words, etc.) and things that are not in their control (i.e. other people’s actions, the weather, etc.). If they notice they are worrying about things that are outside of their control, they can redirect their thoughts, use breathing exercises, or self-talk to manage the worry.

10. Self Talk

Kids can also learn to change the ways they talk to themselves about their worries. Turning, “I’m not brave enough to handle this,” into “I’m stronger than my worries,” or “I can ask for help,” or “I can find one small task to accomplish” will bring about huge changes in the ways kids feel about themselves when worries creep in! Help your students develop positive, healthy self-talk they can use when they experience worries. Like the reframes, try to keep the self-talk statements specific and realistic.

11. Asking for Help

We can empower kids to manage their worries on their own, but the truth is, it’s not a solo job! Teach kids how to ask for help – whether it’s for a break during an overwhelming assignment at school or for reassurance during a storm – so they know that there’s no shame in asking for help and sharing their worries with others!


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How do you help kids deal with worry?

What other skills do you want your kids to learn to help them manage worries? Leave them in the comments below. And check out all of these resources that will help your kids become warriors over their worry!

Worry Warriors Group Counseling Activities

Worry Workbook for Kids

Worry Warriors Card Game

Worry Warriors Folder Game

Worry Whale Activity

Help kids deal with worry with these 11 essential worry management skills. Teach them in classroom guidance, small group, or individual counseling! Help your kids manage worries with these thinking strategies and coping skills for worry. -Counselor Keri
Help kids deal with worry with these 11 essential worry management skills. Teach them in classroom guidance, small group, or individual counseling! Help your kids manage worries with these thinking strategies and coping skills for worry. -Counselor Keri

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