Strategies for Helping Children with Anxiety and Transitions

Anxiety can be one of the most common emotional concerns present in children. Anxiety can only improve when we stop asking, “How do I get rid of this feeling?” and instead ask, “How can I tolerate this feeling?” When life brings moments of transition, this can trigger anxiety in children who are uncomfortable with change, whether that is from an activity, a place, or an object of attention. 

Children who feel anxiety related to transitions can express these emotions through the inability to enjoy moments, displaying avoidance behaviors, physical manifestations, and tantrums or meltdowns. 

Here are some helpful tools, strategies, and resources to help children with their anxiety: 

Tools To Implement In The Moment When Anxiety Is Present 

  • Empathize
  • Develop a plan
  • Count out 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Always comes back
  • Look at the opportunity
  • Provide a feeling of safety  
  • Repeat affirmations
  • Acceptance
  • Handheld item
  • Power of YET—having a growth mindset, “I don’t get it...YET,” “I can’t do this...YET”
  • Breathing tools

Proactive Strategies That Can Help Improve Anxiety 

  • Empathize and plan 
  • Celebrate transitions
  • Sleep
  • Movement and laughter 
  • Praise effort 
  • Mindfulness
  • Watch out for catastrophic language
  • Practice gratitude 
  • Discuss struggles and overcoming them 
  • Prepare for the upcoming situation
  • Positive affirmations
  • Read about positivity, confidence, and growth mindset 
  • Use a fidget toy
  • Accept being in control vs not in control 

Check out these additional resources and strategies to help children with their anxiety:

Resources For Parents

49 Phrases to Calm and Anxious Child

Follow Lynn Lyons for helpful resources—social, podcasts, blogs, webinars, and retreats. 

Counselor’s Corner

Book Recommendations: 

Freeing your Child from Anxiety, Revised and Updated Edition: Practical Strategies to Overcome Fears, Worries, and Phobias and Be Prepared for Life—from Toddlers to Teens by Tamar Chansky, Ph.D.

Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children by Reid Wilson and Lynn Lyons

Resources for Children & Teens

15 Mindful and Relaxation Apps and Podcasts

16 Apps for Calming and Distracting Anxiety

Book Recommendations: 

Playing with Anxiety: Casey’s Guide for Teens & Kids by Reid Wilson and Lynn Lyons

A Little Spot of Anxiety by Diane Alber

Bubble Gum Brain by Julia Cook

Right now, I AM FINE by Dr. Daniela Owen