Are you wondering how you can help your anxious child? And, could we turn such a serious task into something fun and engaging? Anxiety games, toys, and books are fun resources to help kids learn coping strategies and skills.
There are a number of tools and resources that can help parents, teachers, and therapists work on anxiety issues, worries, and coping skills development. And the good news is, it doesn’t need to be an overwhelming or daunting task.
I am a big fan of making skills development and home intervention really fun.
Basically, this is because if we want to really engage our children and get them to participate, it needs to be done in an environment that is fun, safe, and anxiety-free. And what better way to do that than through play and stories?
Additionally, there is a substantial body of research that argues for the importance of play in human development, supporting its role in children’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social learning
Last week I shared some serious stuff with you. I wrote a post about anxiety triggers for kids and coping strategies to help them deal with those emotions and situations. Today, I´m turning again to games, stories, and toys to help your anxious child deal with anxiety and worry and develop coping skills.
Table of Contents:
- Anxiety Toys
- Anxiety Books
- Anxiety Games
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Wouldn´t life be easier if our kids could just get rid of their worries by giving them away to some type of worry eater? Well, maybe that is an actual possibility with these cute monsters. Your kid can write or draw a worry on a piece of paper and put it inside the Worry Monster zipper mouth.
We’ve used similar techniques to deal with anxiety, worry, or anger for a long time. We write down anything that bothers us and we throw the paper in the rubbish bin or flush it down the toilet. I think this toy is a nice twist to that same concept.
Lots of kids and adults find fidgeting toys may help them reduce stress.
Unlike anger games, where it is easy to find plenty of fun games to help kids control their anger, there are fewer anxiety-specific games that I could find.
But, it doesn´t mean that we cannot use games to help our kids work on anxiety and worries. It just means that the set of skills required to cope with worry are worked through in the context of a broader “coping skills” approach.
- 52 Essential Coping Skills (for Mastering Emotions and Stressors) (12 years & older)
This is a great card game for teens and adults. It includes 50+ exercises to address negative emotions such as shame, disappointment, stress, or low self-esteem.
- Thoughts and Feelings: A Sentence Completion Card Game (ages 5 to 11)
The game is designed to support parents, teachers and mental health professionals. Different characters help the kids identify, process, and work through a variety of issues, including anxiety and fears.
Tip: they are great conversation starters, but sometimes younger kids may get a bit confused when the picture does not relate to the sentence. They still work wonders, though.
- Don’t Go Bananas – A CBT Game for Kids to Work on Controlling Strong Emotions (ages 6 to 12)
In this game, kids work to identify emotional triggers, their thought patterns, and ways to change them. It tackles five emotions: worry, fear, anger, sadness, and jealousy.
- Feelmo Speaking Cards – Social & Emotional Skills Development (4 years and older)
The objective of these cards is to help children express their “inner world”. Instead of asking direct questions that may embarrass a child, these cards are a vehicle to help yourself understand what children think. Some kids may find it difficult to share their feelings. This may be a great tool to help them open up and for you to understand how they feel as they explain what they see in the pictures.
The guide that comes with it gives plenty of great suggestions for their use (8 different ways).
Books are great tools for parents, teachers, and therapists who need to help kids develop coping skills. The stories, illustrations, and analogies provide us with age-appropriate resources to support our anxious kids
Recommendations for younger kids
A cute book for little worriers:
The character in this book, Wince, is the Monster of Worry. He constantly feeds his WorryBug only to find that he worries more and ends up overwhelmed by the emotion. Until he learns to control it.
This book helps kids understand the biological and emotional components of anxiety. A dinosaur story explains the link between the brain and body functioning, followed by practical therapeutic techniques that children can use to help themselves.
Good for all ages
This book was recommended to us during a workshop I attended. All Birds Have Anxiety uses bird images to explore with humor what it means to live with anxiety day-to-day, and how to begin to deal with it.
This book normalizes the experience of anxiety and explains how worry happens and how it affects us.
“When My Worries Get Too Big” is both a book and a workbook. It teaches kids how to recognize anxiety. And the last part of the book lists six evidence-based strategies that can help extremely anxious children and teach calming sequence.
I absolutely love everything Dawn Huebner writes, so I have to devote a specific section here for her:
For ages 6-12:
- What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)
Heubner explains that worries are normal and all kids have them. She uses illustrations and metaphors to explain how worries grow so big that they get out of hand and you might need some extra help.
“Did you know that worries are like tomatoes? No, you can’t eat them, but you can make them grow, simply by paying attention to them. If your worries have grown so big that they bother you almost every day, this book is for you”
A book for pre-teens and teens:
In this book, Dawn Heuber teaches 9-13 year olds and the adults who care about them a specific set of skills that makes it easier to face and overcome worries and fears.
Ready to start tackling your child’s anxiety issues? I hope I helped you a little bit here.