What to Say to Help a Kid Who is Worried

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to kids who worry, especially when they are overwhelmed in the moment. Well-meaning adults who just want to erase the worry for kids may say some phrases that aren’t so helpful and don’t empower kids to tune in to their bodies. To help a kid who is worried, try these helpful, empowering phrases:

Wondering what to say to a kid who is worried? Try these phrases to empower kids to talk about their feelings and tune in to their bodies!

What to Say to Help a Kid Who is Worried:

1. How big is your worry?

Instead of telling kids their worries are too big, have kids rate their worry. You can use an emotion thermometer to guide this or just ask them to rate on a scale of 1-10, 1 being tiny and 10 being huge.

2. How can we tell your worry to leave you alone?

Instead of saying, “Just stop worrying,” practice personifying worry. The book, Worry Says What? is a great starting point to help kids learn how they can talk to their worries and tell them to leave!

If you're looking for a book about worry to help your students, you'll love Worry Says What and this free printable activity! Do you have students who struggle with worries or anxiety? This book address school anxiety, social anxiety, and everyday fears that students may experience at home or at school. Worry Says What is a great childrens book about worry that will help your students manage worry and use positive self talk to overcome worries. The free printable worry activity will help them personify and externalize their worries. -Counselor Keri

3. I’m here to listen. Tell me about your worry.

Instead of isolating children with blaming statements like, “You’re making things worse,” invite them into a supportive relationship. Let them know you’re there to listen to their feelings and worries non-judgmentally.

4. Your feelings are valid.

Nothing is more isolating than feeling invalidated with phrases like, “There’s nothing to worry about.” Let kids know they can trust their own feelings and body clues by reminding them they are valid. This isn’t to emphasize and give energy to the worries; it simply lets kids know they can listen to their bodies. From here, you can work together to employ helpful strategies for managing worry.

5. What do you think might happen? What is most likely to happen?

Instead of sweeping the worry under the rug with phrases like, “Everything will be fine,” help kids activate logical thinking by considering possible outcomes. Ask what the child thinks might happen. You can make a list of all possible outcomes, real, silly, or unlikely. Then, rank the outcomes based on how likely they are to actually happen.

6. Let’s breathe together.

Is there any phrase more maddening than, “Calm down!” Kids don’t like it either. Instead, help kids to slow their breathing and heart rate with a controlled breathing exercise. This takes focus and practice (which will take attention away from the worries) and helps kids feel in control of their bodies. Try one of these worry-busting breathing exercises:

Wondering what to say to a kid who is worried? Try these phrases to empower kids to talk about their feelings and tune in to their bodies!

7. Where do you feel your worry in your body?

Another phrase no one loves to hear is, “It’s all in your head,” but many students come to school and report loved ones telling them exactly this about their worries. Instead, help students do a body scan to notice where in their bodies they feel their worry. Is it in their stomach? Neck? Hands? Use a hands-on tool to label the sensations in the body:

Wondering what to say to a kid who is worried? Try these phrases to empower kids to talk about their feelings and tune in to their bodies!

What works for you?

What other phrases do you find helpful when talking with a child who feels worried? How do you empower kids to tune in to their bodies and manage their worries? Leave your best tips in the comments section!

Need more activities and resources to help kids who worry? You’ll love these:

Worry Workbook

Worry Whale Story

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Wondering what to say to a kid who is worried? Try these phrases to empower kids to talk about their feelings and tune in to their bodies! These phrases help kids who worry and help kids manage worries with supportive language and bonds.

2 thoughts on “What to Say to Help a Kid Who is Worried

  1. Keri,
    I love your blog. I was wondering where you got the picture with the flower breathing technique written on it? It is framed on the blog.
    Thanks,
    Tracey

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