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5 Fun and Effective Relaxation Strategies For Anxious Kids

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

A small African American boy trying to catch a bubble

Kids can be exposed to a lot of stress and anxiety in their daily lives, and it can be difficult to know how to help them. Luckily, there are many fun and effective relaxation strategies available to help anxious kids gain control over their emotions and manage their stress.

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Relaxation Strategies for Anxious Kids

Deep Breathing Exercises

There are many benefits associated with deep breathing exercises, including reduced stress and anxiety. Breathing exercises can help your child focus on the present moment, slow down their thoughts and help them regain a sense of control over their emotions. And, since breathing is a natural function of the body, kids can do these exercises almost anywhere. Whether your child is feeling stressed or anxious, or they want to improve their focus before a test, these exercises can help them reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

When I work with kids I tell them to breathe in through their noses like they're smelling a flower, and breathe out through their mouths like they're slowly letting the air out of a balloon. Practice taking 2 or 3 of these slow deep breaths with your kids, anytime, anywhere.

A really great thing about this is that if we practice taking deep breaths when we're not stressed, our bodies are in a better place to have this skill 'kick in automatically' when we need it. Deep breathing can easily become a routine thing that we do to self-calm and feel better. Deep breathing helps to regulate and slow down our breathing, increase blood flow, reduce overall stress, and improve our focus.

Mindful Activities

When we're feeling stressed, it can be tough to feel comfortable being in our own bodies. Mindfulness activities can help kids develop a deeper connection with their bodies, allowing them to fully relax and find relief from anxiety and stress. While most kids might not be able to sit still for a full meditation session, there are many fun activities kids can do to get in touch with their bodies and reduce their feelings of stress and anxiety. Here are a few ideas:

  • Color Breathing: Kids can use colored crayons to breathe in and out of different colors to help them focus on their breathing, slow down their thoughts and relieve feelings of anxiety or stress.

  • Drawing/Sketching: Drawing or sketching can help kids get in touch with their creative sides and focus on their breathing, letting go of their worries and feelings of anxiety.

  • Yoga: Yoga exercises can help kids become more comfortable in their bodies, help them focus on their breathing and promote feelings of relaxation.

A young girl painting and smiling


Yoga is one of the best relaxation strategies for kids. Yoga poses for kids are really fun and yoga in general can be done sitting down, standing up, or lying down, making it a great option for anxious kids who struggle to sit still or focus.

When kids have a yoga routine, they can do yoga at any time, whether they are feeling stressed or anxious or just want to relax. There are many yoga poses that can help kids find relief from their feelings of stress and anxiety. Here are some ideas:

  • Fish Pose: Fish pose can help kids calm down, focus on their breathing and relieve feelings of anxiety. In fish pose, you lie on your back with your feet together and hands relaxed alongside your body. Place your hands underneath your hips, palms facing down. Lift the upper body off the ground. Allow the torso, chest, and shoulders to lift while resting the crown of the head on the floor/mat. Keep the lower body on the ground. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths or so.

  • Butterfly Pose: This pose can help kids relax and calm down, especially if they are feeling anxious. In butterfly pose, you sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together and try to sit up as straight as you can. Then hold onto your feet with both hands and gently move your knees up and down as if your legs are butterfly wings. Kids can imagine what color their wings might be. They can close their eyes and focus on their breaths as they breathe in and out.

  • Cobra Pose: This pose can help kids focus on their breathing, reducing feelings of anxiety and promoting relaxation. In cobra pose, you lie on your belly with your legs stretched out behind you. Bring your hands flat to the ground under your shoulders. Using the back muscles and the core, lift up and hold the pose for a few breaths.

Meditation/Guided Imagery

Meditation and guided imagery are two excellent strategies for helping anxious kids calm down. Meditation and guided imagery are two techniques that help kids focus on their breaths, reduce anxiety and promote feelings of relaxation. Meditation and guided imagery can be done individually or together. For example, kids can close their eyes and visualize a peaceful place, such as a beach, to help them calm down and find peace.

When introducing meditation or guided imagery to your child, make sure they are in a quiet, distraction-free space to help them focus and benefit from the techniques. Let your child pick a technique that appeals to them, whether it be a guided meditation or imagery, and make it as easy as possible for them to benefit from the technique. Here's more information with some ideas for guided meditations for kids.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is another strategy that can help kids de-stress and relax. This technique involves contracting, then relaxing, different muscle groups throughout the body to help kids focus on their breathing, reduce anxiety and find relaxation. Kids can do this technique alone, with a parent or even as a group activity. If your child is comfortable with it, you can even massage their muscles to help them focus on their breaths and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

It can be helpful to create a chart that outlines all the muscle groups for your child to reference as they go through the progressive muscle relaxation technique. This will make the process easier for your child and help them remember which muscles to focus on. You may also want to provide your child with a massage ball, like a squishy ball, which can be used to help kids focus on their breathing and relax their muscles.

Whether your child is feeling overwhelmed, has difficulty falling asleep, or wants to learn how to relax, these five strategies can help them gain focus, reduce anxiety and find peace. From deep breathing exercises to mindfulness activities, these strategies can help anxious kids find relief and allow them to take a break from the stressors and challenges of everyday life.

A cute young boy smiling

All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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