Are you wondering how you can help your anxious child? And, could we turn such a serious task into something fun and engaging? Anxiety toys (that are NOT fidget toys!), and anxiety games 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 to the Worry Eaters? Well, maybe that is an actual possibility. Check our these amazingly cute Worry Eaters:
1. Worry Eaters
Your kid can write or draw a worry on a piece of paper and put it inside the Worry Eater zipper mouth. (I´m so excited about this one! I hope I can still get one for Christmas because we have been throwing papers in the rubbish bin or flushing them down the toilet for some time, so I think this is going to be a nice twist!)
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 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:
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.
Unlike anger games, where it is easy to find plenty of fun games to help kids control their anger (you can read my post Anger Games: Super Fun Ways to Develop Coping Skills), 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.
In this game, the players try to capture the “Worry Monsters”. That´s the vehicle to teach important strategies for dealing with persistent worry (identifying feelings, self-calming, making positive self-statements, changing negative thoughts, planning, coping with difficult feelings, and self-monitoring)
Tip: go through the cards in advance and plan helpful and appropriate ways to answer the questions.
Other games that deal with worry and anxiety in a broader approach (coping skills)
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.
10. Playing CBT – Therapy Game to Develop Awareness of Thoughts, Emotions, and Behaviors for Improving Social Skills, Coping Skills and Enhancing Self Control
The game offers 15 different games in one box to address various emotions, physical sensations, thoughts, cognitive traps and behaviors.
Tip: the different versions also allow to scale up or down in difficulty for a wide variety of ages.
11. Don’t Go Bananas – A CBT Game for Kids to Work on Controlling Strong Emotions
In this game kids work to identify emotion triggers, their thought patterns and ways to change them. It tackles five emotions: worry, fear, anger, sadness and jealousy.
12. Feelmo Speaking Cards – Social & Emotional Skills Development
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).
Ready to start tackling your child anxiety issues? I hope I helped you a little bit here.
Still looking for fun ways to develop coping skills? You may find this post interesting: Anger Games: 14 Super Fun Ways to Learn Anger Management Skills