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Helping to Manage BIG Worries

Some news from your School Counselor

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Helping to Manage Big Worries

Prevention Strategies

1. Be Available to Talk- Kids have big questions, and it’s okay to answer them. Take cues
from your kids and offer clear but concise answers in developmentally appropriate
language. Keep the focus on what you are doing to prepare and prevention strategies
that are within your control like proper handwashing and avoiding large crowds.

2. Limit News Exposure- Even when it seems like they’re not listening, kids pick up on
what they hear on TV and radio. Newscasters’ tone of voice can be enough to set off
alarm bells for kids, and unfamiliar words like pandemic and outbreak can be
fear-inducing. Opt for watching or listening to news reports when kids are in bed or
choose to read news articles if possible.

3. Stick to Routines and Boundaries- Kids thrive with routines and boundaries, and
predictability can be very comforting in anxious times. When some things feel out of
control, routines can give kids a sense of security. School-aged kids might be used to
seeing a visual schedule in their classrooms, so try using one at home. Write your daily
routine on a whiteboard or make a paper schedule together. And make sure you include
fun activities in your daily routine! Play board games, play outside or have silly dance

4. Set & Track Daily Goals- Set small daily goals and track progress so kids can work
toward something important to them! Make sure the goals are within their control. Set
goals around how much they’ll read each day, how many free throws they’ll practice each
day, or how many kind gestures they’ll show toward family members. Track progress on a
goal chart so they can have a visual reminder of the progress they’re making!
5. Start or Continue Mindful Practices- Mindfulness is an amazing practice for people of
all ages. If you don’t have a regular mindful practice already built in to your family time,
try adding it to your routine. This can look like 5 minute morning or bedtime guided
meditation (look for apps like Calm or Headspace) or simple mindful coloring. Find a
mindful practice that you all enjoy doing together!

Responsive Strategies

6. Practice Controlled Breathing- If your child is showing signs of worry, take a moment
to practice controlled breathing. You can simply count breaths for them (inhale 1 2 3 4 5
hold 1 2 3 4 exhale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7) or use tools like a pinwheel or bubbles. Help them slow
their breathing and really exhale all of the air to calm their bodies and minds.

7. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation- Help your child release tension from their body
with a progressive muscle relaxation. In this exercise, children gradually tense up their
muscles and then release them. Find scripts for this on your favorite mindfulness app or
on Youtube.

8. Use Grounding Strategies- Grounding strategies or techniques help kids reorient to
the present moment when the worries are too big. These techniques help kids connect
with their current environment in the here and now when their minds are imagining
potential future scenarios. Try all of these grounding strategies to see which one your
kids like best!

9. Set a Timer- When it’s hard to let go of worries, set a 3- or 5-minute timer. During
those 3 or 5 minutes, tell kids they’re allowed to think about the worry all they want! But
when the timer goes off, it’s time to get up, change positions, move to a different room
or environment, and think of something else.

10. Exercise Creativity- If you have a child who likes to draw or write, try a creative
exercise. Have your child personify their worry by imagining what the worry might look
like if it were a real person, creature or thing. Maybe it looks like a big dragon. Maybe it
looks like a monster. Or maybe it looks like an annoying mosquito. Then, they can draw a
picture or comic or write a story about themselves as a superhero who defeats the

11. Use a Journal or Feelings Tracker- Give your kids a journal to write about feelings or
use a feelings tracker daily. Sometimes worries are so big it feels like they define our
whole day, but when we keep track of our feelings throughout the day with a visual tool,
it’s easier to see that worries are a smaller part of a healthy balance of emotions.

Other Strategies

12. Acknowledge the Worries- It’s completely okay to acknowledge our kids’ worries
rather than ignoring them. Acknowledging worries won’t solidify them but it will help
your child understand that worry is a protective feeling that alerts us to potential
danger. We can help ourselves remember it’s just potential danger though, and use
strategies to keep our worries in check.

13. Avoid Participating in Worry Rituals- If your child is demonstrating any type of
worry or checking ritual (i.e. washing hands excessively), avoid participating or
encouraging these rituals. This sends the message to kids that the rituals are necessary
when they see the adult they’re looking to for support doing it too. Remind kids of the
everyday strategies and routines you already have in place to prevent or protect against
illness, like washing before eating or wiping down shopping carts with disinfectant wipes.

14. Avoid Excessive Reassurance- It’s natural to want to reassure our kids! We want
them to feel safe and calm. Reassure when needed but avoid offering it too frequently
as this can prevent kids from developing their own positive self-talk. Practice things
they can say to themselves when they’re feeling worried like, “I can control my
breathing,” or “My family is taking care of me.”

15. Be Mindful of Your Own Worries- Again, it’s completely reasonable for everyone to
have some level of worry. But kids do pick up on our feelings and notice our anxieties, and
they will take cues from us. If you’re feeling anxious, practice your own mindful or
calming activities, call a friend or loved one, practice self-care, or reach out for help.

Activities that can be printed out:

Dice Game- Feelings Roll and Respond

What’s Poppin? Feelings Tracker

Grounding Technique Cards

Habit Tracker

Play Dough Feelings Activity (Primary)

Daily Mindfulness Bingo

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