Supporting youth with anxious feelings

Oftentimes as adults, there can be an expectation for youth to be able to communicate their feelings the same that adults do. When in fact the brain isn’t even fully developed until at least age 25, well into young adult status. Read on to learn more about how to make room for children to express their anxious feelings without eliminating or minimizing those feelings, and gain access to activities to support children.

Healthy Tip Tuesday is brought to you in partnership with Trinity Health Systems.

How to support a youth working through anxiety.
  • Validate their feelings, even if you don’t quite understand where it’s coming from
  • Teach them to evaluate the evidence.
  • Consider distraction.
    • Find something to take your child’s mind off of what’s worrying them.
  • Avoid adding to the anxiety.
    • Instead of asking “Are you worried about the test?” state “Do you feel ready for the test?”
  • Model healthy ways to manage anxiety.
    • When adults provide good modeling of ways to manage anxiety, it shows kids they can do it too.
  • Lean into the anxiety, and do not shy away from it in a safe space.
    • Work with the child to break down a task they are nervous about into smaller steps.
    • Express confidence that you will be able to help them through any challenge that comes along.
Games can be fun! Try some of these to see if they help get the youth to talk more about their anxious feelings.
  1. My Anxiety Game Plan: Together you can create a game plan to write down how kids recognize, deal with, and challenge anxiety.
  2. Thought Challenge Chart: A chart to track negative thoughts and difficult emotions that might come up after a variety of situations.
  3. Anxiety in My Body: This outline of the human body helps kids draw what they are feeling inside.

Language is key when talking to anyone about anxiety, and there will be times that we say the wrong things, but it is okay! Everyone is human, and we can go back, apologize, and try again!

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