Even without having the everyday worries of an adult, children experience debilitating anxiety in your classroom. While anxiety does not affect children’s academic ability, it does impact their ability to learn. Creating anxiety management activities for kids is easy and fun for both you and your students.
As teachers and counselors, we need to help our students succeed in the classroom. And if they are experiencing anxiety, there are a few things we can do to make things easier for them throughout their time at school.
It’s important to remember that our goal is to help children manage their anxiety, and cope with it when it has been triggered, not necessarily identify triggers for the students.
The following anxiety management activities for kids will help your students manage in and out of the classroom:
1. Bubble & Belly Breathing
Anxiety is often brought on by a fear, or worry, trigger. Perhaps a looming test is causing the student stress, and anxiety. Bringing your students back to the present moment gets them out of their minds, and helps them detach from worry.
One way to do this is to help them learn how to practice mindfulness in the classroom with an activity like bubble breathing— a deep breathing activity with elements of visualization. You can do this without the mess by using make believe bubbles.
Belly Breathing is another way to bring students back to the moment. Teach them to breathe from their stomach rather than from their chest. They can test this by placing one hand on the belly and the other on the chest. Have them close their eyes and redirect their breathing to the belly so that the belly is moving up and down, not the chest.
2. Worry Escape Box
Children with anxiety, whether chronic or test-related, can benefit from having something else to focus on. Knowing they have a worry box at the ready can soothe anxious minds. These may include slime, fidget spinners, special music, or anything else that might give them a different focus.
In the classroom, each student can create their own boxes out of a tissue box, decorate it, and bring their favorite things to keep within it. You can also use a smaller plastic container to create a mini kit that will fit in their desk. They can refer to the Worry Escape Box if they start to experience extreme anxiety in the classroom.
3. Writing Away Worries
Journaling is another excellent way for children to release their anxiety. Teaching your students to write their worries on paper while imaging negative feelings leaving their body and remaining on the paper is a way to teach visualization techniques to youngsters.
If students aren’t writing yet, drawing can be another excellent visualization technique. Splashing colors and making shapes is not only an active physical outlet but also a great tool for stress relief.
4. Tear it Up Today
Along with writing and drawing, students can go one step further by tearing up the worry they’ve expressed on paper, and throwing it in the trash. This exercise allows children to visualize the burden of the worry being detached from themselves, and gone forever.
5. Calm Down Corner in the Classroom
Sometimes anxiety is socially triggered in students, and at times, it can become paralyzing for students to remain amongst the rest of the class. In extreme cases, it can be beneficial to have a quiet place to retreat to when students need to recharge.
A Calm Down Corner can be a tent in a separate area of the classroom, a space in the nurse’s office, or even just a new desk to sit at. Just make sure the students don’t feel isolated or alienated in this quiet space. Instead, they should benefit from the quiet time and never feel alone. It should always be their choice to enter the Calm Down corner.
Setting up a safe space for a student to retreat to in times of extreme anxiety may help him or her bring themselves back into a more manageable state of mind.
You can equip this area with earmuffs, headphones, books, and puzzles.
6. Worry Escape Room Activity
Escape rooms for the classroom are a hit amongst students. They provide engaging skill-building activities in real-time and encourage the development of problem-solving skills.
As teachers and counselors, we know students who engage in lessons learn the best, and escape rooms are an excellent way to get students to invest in the learning process.
Check out this one that is ready to print and go.
These anxiety management activities for kids are both fun and useful in and out of the classroom. Children with anxiety may feel overwhelmed and, at times, paralyzed with fear. But if we help students learn to identify anxiety, and manage it at the onset, they will be better equipped as they progress in their education…and throughout their lives.