10 Things You Can Say to a Kid Who’s Worried

I was an anxious kid who had an anxious mom who passed away when I was 10, making me even more, you guessed it, anxious. While it’s impossible to fill the mom gap completely, I had a great dad and loving family members who did their best to ensure I lacked nothing. But my anxiety and worry were never too far away. While they all did their best, one family member was the champ at calming me and comforting me when I was worried and anxious, my Aunt Bug. She had a way, a presence that calmed me, gave me perspective, and helped me to know I was not alone. After a few minutes of her presence, she would ask questions and assured me she was there to find and support the answers.

Research on anxiety in children backs my aunt’s approach. If a kid is deeply immersed in strong emotions, she may not be able to hear you. But once she is calm, questions are powerful. Anxiety in children can often be lessened by asking helpful questions when anxious and worried. Questions turn on the thinking part of their brain, which calms the worried part, making kids feel better. Here are 10 things you can say to a kid who’s worried.

1. “It’s so easy to worry sometimes. Can we talk about it and figure it out together?

2. “I believe in you. We’ve tackled challenges before, and we can do it again. What do you think would make you feel a bit better right now?”

3. “I know you can handle this, but if you need anything specific from me, I’m right here.”

4. “What’s one thing that usually helps you feel better when you’re worried?

5. “How about you and I take a break from worrying and spend a few minutes doing something fun?”

6. “You may be worried about this, but I’m not worried for you. You always handle things well.”

7. “I’m really sorry you are feeling worried. I know what worrying is like, and it’s not fun. Let me know if I can help.”

8. “I love that you like to figure things out on your own, but I also love it when you let me help. So when you are ready to let me, I’m right here.”

9. “I’m so proud of you. I hate to see you hurting. What can I do?”

10. “I hate to see you worried. Do me a favor and let me help.”

Sound off: What is one way you help your kid when he or she is worried?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How can I help you when you are worried?”