Have Kids That Struggle With Anxiety? These 4 Strategies Will Help

It’s hard being an anxious kid. You already have to worry about making friends and doing well in school, and then you add anxiety? It doesn’t seem fair. Kids spend all day in school being judged on their intelligence, but when you are stressed, you can literally lose IQ points. You start overthinking and overanalyzing why Jack was mean to you at recess or in the hallway and you can’t pay attention to your teacher. Or your mind goes blank and you can’t think about anything.

Sometimes it’s obvious your child is anxious – she’s nervous because it’s the first day of school or she has a big test. Sometimes, anxiety looks like other things, like a headache, upset stomach, perfectionism, or even anger, disruptive behavior, ADHD, or a learning disorder. If your child’s anxiety is affecting their grades, hindering them from going to school, or otherwise seriously hurting them, do seek professional help.

There are also some things you can do to help your anxious child:


Validate Feelings

Kids need to know that what they are feeling is real and valid. Once you validate their feelings and convince them you understand, you can then help them figure out how to calm down. To validate your child’s feelings, you can say:

  • I’m so sorry you are feeling so stressed.
  • What can I do to help?
  • Tell me about how you are feeling.
  • What do you need from me?

Avoid saying “Calm down.” Even though the situation would be made better if your child would calm down and you have your child’s best interests at heart when you say, “Calm down”, the phrase naturally invalidates your child’s feelings and typically results in an even less calm child.


Talk about Anxiety

Talk to your child about the science behind the anxiety. Even very young children can understand the basics of stress and kids love learning about their own brains. Talk to your child about the tension that builds up and how it can affect them. Help them notice the signs that they are becoming anxious – heart pounding, getting sweaty, feeling flushed. Then give them the strategies they can use to calm down, namely: BREATHE!

For a good video on anxiety and the brain, check out: Why Do We Lose Control of Our Emotions? By Kids Want to Know, on YouTube.

parenting anxious kids anxiety


Practice Being Calm

We need to practice calming down so that when we get anxious, we can effectively calm down in that stressful moment. So make working on self-calming techniques a daily habit, so that when your child is anxious, she can self-soothe.

Here are a few ways to practice being calm:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation (use an app like Calm or Headspace) or Belly Breathing for younger kids. Use a stuffed animal and have them place it on their stomach. Watch it go up and down as you breathe.
  • Exercise. While meditation and yoga calm our racing bodies, exercise uses up that energy to calm us down.
  • Create a Relaxation Corner. When your child comes home after school, before starting homework, have a relaxation session. Read a book. Do a sudoku. Snuggle with a parent or a stuffed animal. Drink some hot chocolate or tea. Use the relaxation corner to reset after your long day.
  • Release Emotions: Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg suggests releasing emotions by “Blanking it out”: dance it out, cry it out, laugh it out, draw it out, rap it out, write it out, sing it out, drum it out – the possibilities go on. Use that abundance of energy to do something productive. Once you are able to release your emotions, you can move on because you start to deal with your feelings.


Provide Predictability and Reduce Uncertainty

Anxious children are often scared of uncertainty or change. They need predictability to feel safe and calm.

For instance, if your child gets anxious about school work, she may be worried about not being smart enough to complete the homework, so she goes blank and can’t answer any of the questions, even though you know she knows the answer. Help her avoid this stress by previewing the homework together first, then taking a break, giving her mind time to think about how to answer the questions without any pressure, and then going back to the homework. This technique takes away the scary, uncertainty of what the homework will entail and reduces the pressure.

The number one way that kids learn is by watching their parents and mimicking their behavior. So start practicing those daily self-calming rituals yourself. Be the calm person you want your child to be to help show them how they can overcome obstacles and stress more easily when they are calm and collected.


About Katherine Firestone 

Katherine had a hard time in school because she suffered from undiagnosed ADHD till her junior year of high school. What made her successful during this time was the support system she had around her. After college, she worked as a teacher, and saw that parents wanted to help their kids at home, but didn’t know what to do. She started the Fireborn Institute to give parents ideas on how to help because success at school is enhanced at home.  


About Fireborn Institute 

Fireborn Institute is a non-profit that provides parents with practical and easy-to-remember strategies to help their children in school. Through our lectures, podcasts & handouts, we coach parents on topics such as helping with homework or conquering a messy backpack. Our ultimate goal is to help parents help their kids thrive at school.



Borba, M. (2016). UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ehmke, R. (n.d.) Anxiety in the Classroom. Child Mind Institute.

Ginsburg, K. (2015). Building resilience: Preparing children and adolescents to THRIVE. The Learning and the Brain Conference: Boston.

Minahan, J. (2015). Between a Rock and a Calm Place. The Learning and the Brain Conference: Boston.

10 Tips for Raising and Nurturing SUPER Happy Kids

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

By Lianne Avila, Expert10 Tips for Raising and Nurturing SUPER Happy Kids

You don’t have to be perfect.

Parenting is no easy job, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. For those of you that have chosen it, you should congratulate yourself. You are making a big difference in helping the next generation.

Parenting and children have changed drastically. Personally, I think video games and the internet are a big part of it. Plus, all the name brands. How do you keep up? It’s important not to compare yourself to others. I know this is easy to do. I, honestly, think that we are wired to do this. But, it is self-defeating and no one benefits.

You don’t have to be perfect. Your child doesn’t expect perfection, and you shouldn’t either. What children need more than anything is to feel loved. They need this more than material things.

Here are 10 ways parents can raise and nurture happy kids:

1. Play with your child.

This is your child’s language. This means you get down on the ground and play with them at their level. When you play with your child, your child genuinely feels loved.

2. Know one important thing happening in your child’s life at school.

This goes with departing. Make sure that you keep in touch with the teacher to know what is happening in your child’s day. You can also ask your child and how they answer depends on their age.Make sure you give your child a big hug and kiss before departing for the day.

As a society, we have gotten away from touching. But, your child needs your touch. They are actually craving it.

3. Don’t try to fix everything. 

Part of growing up and learning to take care of yourself is learning to solve your own problems. This will teach your child how to be resilient. You need these skills in almost everything you do.

4. Don’t overwhelm your children.

When your child has too many rules, they can shut down. Start with a few simple rules and stick with them. This lets your child know what you expect from them. It also lets them know there is a consequence for not following the rules.

5. Read books together every day.

Start when you have a newborn. Children love to hear their parent’s voice. This is also good for the brain and gives you the chance to cuddle up with your child — another great opportunity for touch.


6. Fess up when you blow it.

It’s important you apologize to your child when you’ve done something we wrong. This teaches your child that we all make mistakes. It’s simple: you admit to what you did and you say “I’m sorry.” It can be one of the hardest things to do but one of the best things for your relationship with your child.

7. Show affection to your spouse in front of your kids.

This means kiss, hug, and touch. Your marriage is the only example of a relationship your child has. This means it’s your job to set a great standard.


8. Cheer the good stuff.

When you see your child picking up after themselves, let them know how pleased you are. Thank your child for sharing with their brother or sister without you having to ask. This will help reinforce positive behavior.


9. Trust your mommy gut.  

You know your child better than anyone else. If you think there is something wrong, it’s alright to question it.

If they are quiet when they come home one day when they are usually loud, ask your child what is wrong. If they insist nothing is wrong, it may be time to check-in with the teacher to see how things are going at school.

10. Give yourself a break.

Ordering a pizza when you’ve had a long day, doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. I can tell you, at one time or another, everyone has done it. This also lets your child know they don’t always have to go at 100 mph.


I had the idea to write this article, after seeing many parents and children in my practice. I see a lot of the same problems in families, especially in the Bay Area. I say all of these things a lot in my practice.

Remember, no parent is perfect. Good parents make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from them and make-up.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many parents feel more connected with their children. For a free phone consultation or more information, please visit Lessons for Love

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10 Ways I Battled My New Mom Anxiety

Anxiety is no joke.  The amount of times per week that I have to talk myself back down from a panic cannot be counted on one hand, let alone two.  Everything about motherhood is extra.  Extra stressful.  Extra tiring. Extra overwhelming. Extra scary.  You get it.  Super e-x-t-r-a.  All. The. Time.

I am an extra positive person as well.  The extras extend to the “cup-half-full” side of me, but it takes work. So in preparing for my role as a new mom, I knew it was going to take some full-fledged mental gymnastics to keep my head in the game.  Here are the top 10 ways that I coped with my anxieties as a new mom and kept the extra in check.

Prep for 6-8 weeks of the most exciting exhausting time of your life! I remember when my milk came in I was all of a sudden filled with so much anxiety that was a mix of all things positive and scary at the same time: overwhelming love; hate for the world in its current state; worry that I was doing everything wrong; and the big one…sorrow so deep over the loss of my independence. Yep.  That was a big, fat, guilt-inducing emotion!  I asked for hugs from my husband often during that time, and they actually worked.  Brace yourself for the initial 6-8 weeks, knowing that this is going to be a huge transition hormonally, emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

Don’t even try to do all the things. I mean it.  Just STAHP.  Seriously, that is why people offer to help.  If you are blessed enough to have a support system, utilize them!  I had to remind myself often that as long as the baby is comfortable and cared for with love, she will survive!  And most importantly, you will too.  I would only allow myself to have one to two items on my to-do list each day.  And most of the time, those two things were to shower and drink all the waters.  Allow yourself the time and space to heal and take in every moment.  And don’t let the anxiety of unanswered text messages and missed phone calls get to you.  Everyone can wait.  No text response is worth stressing yourself out about.  I had to fight this urge every time I received communication via text or social media.  Everyone can wait for pictures.  They are just going to keep asking for more anyway.

10 ways defeated new anxiety

Babies were born, and survived, without technology for centuries! There are so many great gadgets for new parents these days.  I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “They never had this when I had my kids!” from those who went before me on the parenthood journey.  There are also WAY too many choices of all things technology out there.  Enough to, you guessed it, cause a panic attack.  I made a point to set aside my constant fear of something happening to my daughter in her sleep, and opted for no monitor.  “Gasp!  What?  No monitor?  But what about all of the things?”  Well you know what? It’s miraculous.  She is plenty loud when she needs us.  So I will sleep soundly (when I do sleep) until she lets me know she needs me, from down the hall.

Maybe don’t read every baby related article on Facebook. Unless it’s this one.  Then you are in the right place.  This is everything right now.  Just kidding.  You know the articles I’m talking about.  The ones that warn you of every potential evil that has ever existed in the entire world.  If you must read them (to set your anxiety about knowing you haven’t read them at ease) then do the following:  make a list of one take away from the article that will help you be a more aware and attentive parent.  Then be done with it.  Don’t worry about needing to warn all other moms of this potential danger you had never heard of.  I guarantee you they are already stressing themselves out over the same article. Move on.


SEE MORE: Science Shows How A Trip to Beach Changes Your Brain


Allow space for your mother’s intuition. There are so many opinions out there on what to do. Basically all the ways you can either set your baby up for the most emotionally fulfilling success, or on the flip side, all the ways you can traumatically injure them and destroy any hope for a bright future.  But don’t worry…you ultimately get to decide.  #nojudgementzone  Yeah right!  It’s a trap!  BIG FAT JUDGEMENT ZONE!!  Run!  For real though, you are the one who is responsible for your child.  In spite of all the well-intentioned advice, you have to go with your gut at the end of the day.  You will be the one who learns your baby’s cues, and ultimately…you will figure it out one day at a time. Cut yourself some slack.  This was one of the biggest threats to my new mom anxiety levels, and I had to monitor myself carefully.  You of course may need to seek advice, a lot.  But you will learn who your trusted sources are.  Cling to them for dear life.

I reminded myself that the gas pains will subside, eventually. She won’t remember this gas- this too shall pass.  This was the mantra I repeated to myself when she was crying non-stop each evening as she worked through the gas pains.  Remember, their little systems are booting up.  Everything has to work itself out and so you’ll go through some rough phases.  But just as quick as the gas came, it went.  It was an issue for maybe 2 weeks tops.  Although it did feel like forever, and I felt myself spiraling down a few times.  She won’t remember this gas- this too shall pass. Rinse and repeat.

Self-care really did give me a boost. Even running on empty, if I could at least take a nice hot shower I felt like I could take on the world!  (But remember, only two to-do items per day!)  For each person, self-care may look a bit different.  For me it was shower, get dressed, put on a tad bit of makeup, enjoy a cup of delicious coffee and take my supplements.  That was my power combo.  And I’m talking about wearing a capsule wardrobe with a 5-minute makeup routine.  Nothing fancy.  And I wear the same red lipstick and hat every day.  Because who has time to deal with all that post-partum alopecia?  Not this chick.  Find what packs a punch for you in the most efficient way possible, and this will go far in boosting your outlook when facing all these new anxieties.

10 ways overcome new mom anxiety

Do not cave to the vain imaginations! What’s a vain imagination you ask?  It’s all of the things you imagine are potentially going to happen.  And then all of the responses you come up with, because now you are convinced they are going to happen.  And now you are crying and dry heaving, because how are you going to deal with these things that just happened for crying out loud?!  But wait, they haven’t happened yet.  And I actually just made that all up in my mind.  So really, it isn’t even truth because it hasn’t even occurred and may not occur.  See where I’m going with this?

Give yourself and others around you and extra measure of grace. Especially if this is your first time caring for a little one.  Remember that you have to get to know this sweet babe and/or babes.  (Dear Lord, give them an extra measure of grace if it’s babies plural!) When it comes to all the small ways your anxiety wants to take over when you see someone else trying to change the diaper- slowly back away.  Even if it is taking your husband a bajillion hours to change her, and he isn’t even putting the new diaper under the old one in case she starts peeing before he can get the new one on!  ARGHHHH!  But you know what he is doing?  He’s bonding with the baby.  Remember that.  And she’s safe, even if there is an extra mess to clean up.  He’s learning what it means to care for a baby too.  Give your loved ones the space to grow alongside you.  None of you have it all figured out, so just do your best.


SEE MORE: The Day I Stopped Saying “Hurry Up”


Slow down, and be in the moment. This is easier said than done.  Because if you are like me, your anxiety will pull you under as the laundry piles up.  And the dishes aren’t done.  And the house takes on a particularly dusty hue.  I finally got to the point where I started asking people to clean when they asked how they could help.  Because I was too flipping tired to do anything other than care for my little one and occasionally venture out into the world from time to time.  When the anxious thoughts would creep up, I would battle them back by thinking of all the precious time I was soaking up watching this little human being develop and change.  It was all too important, and I had to protect that time at all cost.

Try out different ways to fight the anxiety that threatens to take you down.  Try new things, don’t be afraid to fail, and keep going until you find little ways to relieve the overwhelm.  No one expects you to be perfect, so don’t even put that on yourself.   Most of all, make sure you talk about how you’re feeling with those whom you trust.  It’s always best to speak out about your anxieties, so they don’t become the monsters in your head.  And remember – you are not alone mama!

Disclaimer:  This is a disclaimer about all the disclaimers, because anxiety.  I in no way claim to know what I’m doing.  I do not have a cure for anxiety.  I’m just a girl with ideas.  I found what worked for me and hope it helps you and yours.  Please like me.

Misty Winesberry has been married for going on 9 years to her husband Jajuan Winesberry. They recently welcomed a baby girl making them a cozy family of three.  As a multi-passionate career woman, Misty enjoys advocacy work in her spare time.  While Misty and Jajuan photograph weddings primarily, they also share their story of hope and recovery while living with mental illness.  Their desire is to fight stigma at every turn, making it easier for others who are struggling to find their voice.  You can find them at their website, Facebook or their Instagram account.

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The Top 5 Dying Regrets Might Change How You Parent

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

By Mia Von Scha, Expert

Life lessons from the edge of death.

A palliative nurse, Bronnie Ware, recorded the top five regrets of the dying and has written a book on this and what we can learn in terms of living a fulfilling life.  

Knowing these regrets can also transform your parenting journey. If you want to learn how to be a better mom or dad, keep these in mind in your daily life with your kids:

1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

This came up as the most common regret expressed by the dying and is something that every parent should take note of. Your kids are not you, are not extensions of you, and are certainly not on this planet to fulfill the dreams that you didn’t fulfill for yourself.

Every child has their own dreams and hopes for their own lives, and our job as parents is to raise them with the confidence and belief that they can do anything that their hearts desire. Drop expectations.

Accept that your child is someone now and is amazing just by the very fact that they are. Allow them to be who they are and to follow their own life path, regardless of what that is. And, of course, have the courage to do this for yourself too —our children learn so much by simply watching us and how we live our lives.

If you don’t believe that you can live a life true to yourself, your kids will pick up on this and start limiting themselves accordingly. Live large, live true to yourself, and live a life that inspires your kids to do the same.

2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

Please note that no-one on their deathbed is going “I wish I made more money”. Your kids don’t need lots of cash, expensive gifts, fancy homes, or overseas holidays. What they do need is you — your time, your love, your guidance. And you can only give this to them if you are around to do it.

You have your whole life to work, but your kids are only young for a very short time. So make a bit less money, live a simpler life, and be there while your children grow up — you will never regret that choice.

And then offer your children the same attitude by not pushing them to grow up so quickly, by not enrolling them in endless extracurriculars so that they never have time just to be, by not placing so much emphasis on achievements and instead placing emphasis on living, enjoying life and connecting with others.



3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

Feelings are real things, and repressing them is harmful to our bodies and souls. Allow your children to see you expressing the full range of emotions — excitement, happiness, peace, anger, grief, and guilt. 

By watching you go through the normal human emotions, seeing how you handle them and seeing that you come out OK on the other side, children learn from you. They learn that all emotions are OK. They learn that we can survive even the most intense of emotions. They learn compassion and humility and forgiveness of both themselves and others.

Never ever tell a child that the emotion they are experiencing is wrong or that it should be ignored or repressed. Help little children to work through their emotions, to find healthy ways to express them, and to talk about what is going on with someone that they trust. Tell them often that you love them.

4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

Remember that as a parent, you also have friends, hobbies, and things that you enjoy. Although children can be time-consuming, it is important to remember who you are and what makes you tick.

By giving up your own friends, relationships, hobbies, and pleasures, you are not doing your children any favors. Kids learn via osmosis, and by watching you treasure your relationships, nurture your friendships and do things that bring joy into your life, they will learn to do the same.


5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

Happiness is a choice. And it’s a choice that you can only make right now. Be a role model for your children of bringing happiness into everything that you do. If you are postponing your happiness until the kids grow up or you have more money or your partner changes or your mother-in-law dies, what you are essentially doing is saying that you will only smile when the face in the mirror smiles back at your first.

If you are not happy now, you will never find happiness in the future. Stop procrastinating and be it now.


Children are an excellent example of finding joy in the small moments of life. Slow down, watch your kids, and instead of always trying to get them to be more serious like you, do your best to become enveloped by their ability to bring happiness to every moment.

Have fun. Be silly. Smile. Laugh.

Both life and parenting are journeys and the destination is right now. Slow down, live in the moment, be free to be human and experience all the emotions and love that comes with that and allow your kids to do the same.

Childhood is such a brief moment in time and living a life with no regrets means also parenting without regrets. Today is the first day of the rest of your life — make it count.

If you are struggling with any of these things give Mia von Scha a call. 


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10 Easy Ways To Be A Fantastic Parent (While Staying Mostly Sane)

By Lianne Avila

Parenting is no easy job. But this might help.

Parenting is a job that never ends. If you’ve taken on this job, you need to congratulate yourself. You are responsible for the well-being of another human being.

Parents have a tremendous impact on a child — at present and in the future. Remember Freud? It’s true the way we relate to our parents is how we learn to relate to the world as adults.

I find a lot of parents want to be perfect. If you feel this way, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Nobody is perfect. You set the example of the need for perfection for your child. This is unrealistic and can cause problems down the road.

I also find that children are way overbooked these days. Your child doesn’t have to do everything now. They have a whole lifetime to fulfill their dreams.

Here are 10 easy ways to be a fantastic parent:

1. Don’t try to fix everything. 

Give your child a chance to find their own solutions (depending on their age, of course). It’s alright to acknowledge that they’re frustrated, simply by saying “I see you are frustrated.”

This will help in the future. They will gain more confidence in themselves. 

2. Play with your child.

Play is your child’s language. Gear the type of play based on their age. Toddlers love to be touched and jump around, so allow them the space to do so.

I know that almost all children love video games, which is alright if they are the non-violent type and they don’t play them for more than an hour a day. But, they don’t always allow for a parent to play with them. Try some board games.

I have two nephews ages 4 and 6, they love to play Junior Monopoly. I love to hear them talk about the game and what they’re learning as they play. Play is one of the best ways to connect with a child.

3. Cheer the good stuff. 

Let your child know when they are doing something helpful or nice. Cheer them on with enthusiasm.

When a child is young, they learn how to behave by the response of their parents. If they picked up their toys outside, let them know you are glad they did it. This will help reinforce good behavior.

4. Respect parenting differences. 

It’s important to support your spouse’s parenting style, as long as it’s not out of line. We all come from different backgrounds and have different ideas about parenting.

If your spouse thinks it’s important they take on a few chores, then be supportive. When you argue or criticize one another in front of your child, you can actually do more harm than good.

5. Savor the moments. 

I know parenting is the most exhausting job on the planet. Your house is a mess, the dishes are stacked up in the sink, and now your dog needs to go for a walk. When does it end?

But, your child just laughed and gave you the cutest smile. Enjoy that in the moment. This will help you think fondly of your child.

6. Get kids moving. 

The latest research has shown that there’s a link between brain development and activity. Don’t let the T.V. be the babysitter. Children can sit and watch T.V. for hours if you let them.

Let your toddler walk, rather than you carrying them or be in the stroller. Make sure to create opportunities for your child to exercise as they get older. Let them play and run around outside.

Not only will they get exercise, they will get natural light. This is a great way to get Vitamin D, which we all need.

7. Don’t be afraid to take charge. 

Children want and need limits. This actually lets them know that you love and care for them. This can also help them make sense of a confusing world.

Try to be consistent and let them know what the boundaries are. For example, what time do they need to be home after school? When do their chores need to be done?

8. Read books together every day. 

It’s great to start this when you have a newborn. Babies love to hear your voice. They may not understand your words, but they pick up on tones and body language

Cuddling up with your child and a great book is a great way to bond. Read them a story when you are getting ready to tuck them into bed. They love this.

Whenever I do this for my nephews, they don’t want me to stop. They always bring a few books.

9. Schedule daily special time. 

I know you are busy. But, carve out 15-20 minutes a day to spend with your child. This is a great way to show your love. This can be when your child gets home from school.

Ask them how their day was? Ask lots of questions. This will let them know you are genuinely interested in their life. Make sure to wait for the answers.

10. Give yourself a break. 

Ordering a pizza when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad parent. You aren’t Superwoman and your kids don’t expect you to be. We all make mistakes.

I often tell parents that good parents make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes. This also teaches your child that it’s alright to make mistakes.

There you go. Simple, right?

I know parenting can change on a daily basis. I also know your parenting style changes and your child gets older. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out.

All parents struggle at times. The more you talk about your struggles, the more you will see you aren’t alone.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She loves working with children and families. For more information, please go to Lessons for Love

The 21 Reasons Your Kid Lies

By Judy Helm Wright

We don’t want our kids to lie and we discipline them when they do. But wait,what about us?

Do parents lie to their kids? Do kids tell lies? Why do we lie often when the truth would serve us better?

We recently had a group of friends and relatives at our home for a dinner party. After some great food and general conversation, I asked them to help me with this project.

Everyone was supportive and eager to assist in writing a book. But when I asked them to tell me why they lied, there was a shocked silence.

No one wanted to admit to the group that they lied as adults and as parents. They were eager to find solutions to their children telling stories or blaming other people, but hey, they were mature adults and surely they had outgrown those behaviors, or at least they wanted everyone else to think they had.

Integrity is a process.

I explained that developing integrity is an on-going process, not only for children but for adults too.

When I confessed about telling a lie to an insurance agent who called for a number when I was busy preparing dinner, they were reassured: “Oh, you mean little lies; well sure we all do that.”

So I asked them to list the reasons why people would lie. We were able to come up with ten reasons. I later asked a group of children who added to the list and repeated some of the same ones the adults had listed.

Here are some 21 reasons why kids lie and why parents lie too:

1. To conceal guilt and avoid punishment

2. To avoid ridicule, disapproval, or embarrassment

3. To impress others to win acceptance or approval

4. To get out of trouble.

5. To get someone else into trouble.

6. Because they were afraid of the punishment for admitting what we did.

7. Because they were boasting or bragging.

8. To get people to like us.

9. To get people to leave us alone.

10. They can’t remember what the truth is.

11. They don’t want to assume responsibility.

12. They think we won’t get caught.

13. To make our lives seem more interesting.

14. To inflate our credibility and influence

15. To avoid confrontation and conflict.

16. To make others feel good about themselves.

17. To get attention when we feel left out.

18. To take advantage of other people or situations.

19. To protect other people.

20. To cover up another lie we told previously

21. Because it has become a habit.

It was interesting to see how much more open and willing the children were to admit that they used lying as a life skill and as a way of coping with difficult situations.

Some children felt it was wrong, some had trouble defining a lie and some were clearly confused by the messages they were getting from their parents.

What is a Lie?

Remember to distinguish between a lie, which a persistent intent to deceive, and wishful thinking. Most young children have vivid imaginations and cannot think in abstract ways.

If a young child sees a friend with a new puppy, he may state, “Yes, we have a new puppy, too.” He’s not being deceitful, he’s confusing fact with a fantasy.

He may have been begging for a dog, and his parents were non-committal. In his mind, maybe if he says it often enough and with much emphasis, it will indeed be true.

Casting the wide net of blame is often very common in young children. A mother in a parenting class shared that when she asked her 3-year-old daughter if she had wet her pants, she said, “No, I am potty trained. But my pants wet me.”
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9 Truly Beautiful Ways To Love Your Daughter

By Ani Anderson

These questions will help you look into your heart and become the mother you really want to be.

The moment she was born, a switch went off inside of me that turned me into a different person — I was a mother. And somehow the things I wanted for myself melted into the background and didn’t seem to matter much anymore.

9 Ways to Love Your Daughter

My life became hers and it seemed completely beyond my control.

My daughter Cassie is 11 now. I wouldn’t trade anything for her hugs or late night chats. When I’m not near her for a few days, I feel like a part of my body is missing. There is no question — I would easily give up my own life rather than lose her.

I don’t understand, and probably never will, the enormity of the power that loving her has over me.

Right now she’s just a kid, but I know that she will be my daughter for the rest of my life. Many more years will be spent in our relationship with her as an adult than the time we will spend in her childhood.

So we will move beyond socks on the floor and tears over broken toys, beyond boyfriends and into husbands, and then to kids and mortgages together. I will be her mother for her whole life. And because of that fact, I hold a great respect in my heart for our relationship and the responsibility for my part in it.

I could go through the motions of a regular life, taking my daughter along for the ride. Or, I could soak up every precious moment with her, knowing that this relationship with my daughter is one of the sweetest blessings of being alive.

Living in the moment may sound like a dream, because let’s face it, being present is difficult. However with practice, being aware of the present moment can become your reality more often.

So to increase our awareness, you can ask yourself how to love your daughter in beautiful ways. And when you ask the high-quality questions, the quality of your life will improve.

Asking these 9 questions can help you pay more attention to creating a beautiful relationship with your daughter when you feel like you’ve forgotten how to be present:

1. Ask: Who is she becoming that I can’t see right now?

When she was 4, I thought my daughter was a psycho. I actually remember posting in an Internet chat room something to the effect of, “How do I know if my daughter is going to grow up to be a psychopath?”

She was terribly opinionated and obstinate. And I didn’t know what to do with her. Most days I wanted to lock her in a room and cry with grief that I had birthed this crazy little person. Loving and hating her at the same time was almost too much to bear.

But now she’s 11. She’s strong and beautiful, a powerful leader, decisive and direct. She doesn’t take crap and stands up for the underdog. I’m so proud of her and often think, “Had I known…”

But I’m grateful now for this reflection because it reminds me as she grows and goes through life that she is a developing human being. She’s learning, she’s growing, and she’s always becoming more of who she is going to be in this world.

The more I can remember that and ask this question, the more I can allow the hard times knowing that she is developing her authenticity.

2. Ask: What does she really want?

Women don’t say what they mean or mean what they say. We are beautifully complex and the best relationships, for us, are with people who can read between the lines.

We need to step back and consider not just what we want from this relationship, but what does she want? When your daughter appears to be moving in a direction away from you, can you read between the lines well enough to let her go?

Ask yourself what your daughter really wants. What is she really trying to say?

When you can step back for a minute to ask this question, you may realize that your daughter’s distance is actually good for your relationship.The most self-actualized people are those who can break free from their “tribe” to forge their own way.

And although it may bring grief to our hearts as their mothers to think of letting our daughters go, the more we can see them, hear them and bless them in their strengths and desires, the more connected we will be with them in the long term.

So put your own needs and attachments aside and ask your heart, and your daughter, what does she really want? Then help her go for it.

3. Ask: What is she trying to teach me?

Every relationship is a two-way street and there is just as much to learn as there is to teach. It can be easy to forget this when you are focused on your mothering role. Our daughters are “daughtering” us, just as much as we are “mothering” them.

But will you let her teach you?

I experienced this on Halloween. We had about 8 pumpkins. My daughter and I went outside first and she chose which one she wanted. Then she asked me, “Which do you want?”

My reply was, “I’ll wait for the boys and then choose mine.”

“No,” Cassie said. “You choose. You have every right to choose whichever one you want.”

And of course, she was right! I had gotten so used to eating the leftovers off of everyone else’s plate that I forgot to consider that I am allowed to pick my pumpkin even if the kids didn’t all pick yet. I thanked her for the reminder and for being such a great daughter.

4. Ask: Is she triggering my own issues?

As Don Miguel Ruiz describes in his book The Voice of Knowledge, we are all artists telling stories about our lives, and we get to choose what stories we want to tell.

Sometimes we pick stories that disempower us. Stories that say, we don’t have enough time, enough money, enough acknowledgments and life is hard. We have “issues” and talk about our lives using them as an invisible and painful frame of reference.

Our daughters learn how to tell the story of their own lives from watching us tell ours. When we get upset about the stories they are telling and react emotionally to them, it’s called a trigger.

Our daughters learn our issues from us but think they are just a way of being in the world… so they have the same issues and behave in a similar way.

When you find yourself upset, frustrated, concerned, angry, grieving, or resentful about how your daughter is acting, she is simply reflecting your patterns back at you like a painful mirror. That will trigger a reaction.

Not only do we learn our issues from our parents, but also our reactions. So you will find yourself reacting in ways that you don’t like in response to your daughter’s behavior that you also don’t like! It’s a nasty cycle.

Without awareness of this cycle, we continue to pass our issues and reaction patterns right on down to our daughters. Is that the kind of legacy you’re interested in leaving?

The first key to unraveling these patterns is awareness. Become aware when you are triggered by what she’s doing or saying. Then you have the capacity to make a different choice. Without awareness, you can’t make the decision to change.

5. Ask: Where can I find gratitude?

Sometimes it’s difficult to find gratitude throughout difficult relationships. And with daughters, it’s inevitable that it will be difficult at some point. But if it was easy, you wouldn’t be growing. Joy grows out of struggle if you let it.

So find gratitude for your daughter when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard. When you have moments where she is triggering you, have gratitude for the opportunity to grow.

When you can learn about yourself, learn about your daughter, and be a better human being, then the struggle has a purpose and you can move through it with grace.

6. Ask: Am I trying to protect her?

Of course, mothers protect their children. It’s part of the process of keeping them alive. But there comes a time, and it’s earlier than you think, when stepping back from protecting themand letting them experience hurt, pain, and struggle is extremely beneficial.

I remember being fairly well protected in my own life until the age of about 15.

At 15, my life got really hard as abuse, neglect, and heartache entered all at once for what felt like the first time. It was incredibly disillusioning and I didn’t know how to handle it. I remember a moment when my mother told me something to the effect of “this is how life is.”

Struggle and pain are a part of life and when we develop the capacity for resilience at a young age, we are stronger throughout our lives.

Catch yourself when you are trying to protect your daughter. It can be much more beneficial to navigate the story with her rather than shielding her from it completely. Don’t hide the hard stuff.

7. How can I help her trust herself?

As a coach, the biggest issue I see in women is a lack of self-trust. And we learn this, of course, from our mothers. It’s not because they didn’t try to tell us how to trust ourselves, but because they didn’t trust themselves.

You will likely notice when your daughter doesn’t trust herself, but you may not notice how you are perpetuating that lack of trust with your own behavior.

In order to help develop her self-trust, allow your daughter to make decisions that go against you (or appear to go against you). She needs to find her own way. Trust her. 

Your trust that she can do it will translate to her trusting herself. And let yourself trust yourself, even if it flies in the face of what looks right, smart or even caring so that you can develop and model healthy self-trust for your daughter.

8. Ask: Am I taking this personally?

It can be difficult not to take things personally in any relationship, but especially with the tremendous love felt between a mother and daughter. Hurt can go down to the core.

Remember, you are eternal spirits here on earth experiencing life. You’re not really mother and daughter for eternity, these are just temporary roles that you are playing at this time.

Some people even believe, like I do, that we agreed to play these roles before we came into this life so that our souls and spirits can grow and evolve. Even if you don’t believe that, taking things personally stinks and keeps us in pain.

So instead, look at your life from the bigger picture… in terms of your WHOLE life. In the grand scheme of your whole life, do you need to take what’s happening right now personally? This perspective will help you move on from hurt and never lose connection.

9. Ask: What do I really want in my life and am I going for it?

If you ever find yourself stuck, or you see your daughter is stuck, this is the question to ask yourself.

As mothers, the best way to be a role model for your daughter is to actually look into your heart and go for your dreams — even if it’s scary or appears that it’s going to lead to a disconnected relationship (because it’s most likely an unsubstantiated fear).

Remember, she is your daughter and you have invisible strings binding you. If you are not living your fullest life then she is learning not to live hers — no matter what you say to her. She learns from what you do and don’t do.

Be courageous, live your dreams, take action, fly in the face of fear and really live! That is the only way your daughter will live her dreams.

We want so much for our precious daughters. Maybe even more than we want for ourselves. Our wanting more for her, we think, will lead to a better relationship for us in the long term.

However, the only way to get what you want is to give it to yourself. And when you look out for yourself, you teach your daughter to do the same.

These questions will help you to look into your own heart and become the mother that you really want to be so your daughter can become her best too. I hope you will use these 9 questions in your own life to help you and your daughter’s relationship flourish for a lifetime.

4 Steps To Having Open And Honest Talks About Sex With Your Kids

By Lori Beth Bisbey

If you don’t, let me tell you who will…

Many parents find it difficult to talk about sex and intimacy with their children. No one ever taught them how, and it’s understandably uncomfortable. But like anything else, as a parent you need to figure out how and when to discuss sex and intimacy with your child before society does.

4 Steps To Having Open And Honest Talks About Sex With Your Kids


Today’s children are at greater risk of developing a warped view of sex and intimacy than ever before. They desperately need you to explain to them your view of what healthy sex and intimacy look like.

When I use the phrase ”warped view” I’m not referring to kinky sex practices or alternative sexuality. I’m far more concerned about the average views regarding sex and sexuality and how they are communicated.

Research shows that young people receive most of their modeling around sexual behavior from the media —  in particular, pornography.

Don’t misunderstand me. This is not an anti-pornography stance. My concerns here revolve around the fact young people are getting the majority of their information from such an impersonal source.

While attending the recent TED Women Conference, what I heard from speaker Peggy Orenstein chilled me to the bone.


Orenstein conducted research focused on girls and sex. She performed an in-depth interview with a group of 70 racially and ethnically diverse girls between the ages of 15 and 20 who identified as either college bound or already in college. Among the group, 10 percent placed themselves on the sexuality spectrum as being either lesbian or bisexual.

Research shows a high prevalence of sexual assault occurs on college campuses. Even in our modern culture we still have difficulty navigating discussions of consent without the inevitable spiral into talk of “false allegations.”

As the mother of a 14 ½-year-old son who has been raised in a complicated family, I strive to give him the tools necessary for negotiating the minefield of sexual and intimate relationships.  

  • He has a variety of people he can talk to about these decisions who I know will always have his back.
  • He knows that he needs to discover his own desires, likes, and dislikes.  
  • He knows that his body belongs to him.
  • He knows about consent.
  • He knows to treat his partners with respect and not to be judgmental.   
  • He also knows that talking about these things, though potentially embarrassing, is essential to having healthy and satisfying long-term sexual relationships.  

As an intimacy coach and a psychologist, I remain concerned for those kids raised in homes in which their parents never even mention sex, the children whose parents are never physically affectionate in front of them, and those in homes in which too much adult sexual behavior is seen.  

Paul Bryant, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University Bloomington, highlights the trouble faced by children learning about sex through pornography in his “sexual script theory” regarding the sexual socialization of teens.

For today’s teen, pornography lays down internal scripts for a variety of sexual behaviors and scenarios. 

If parents do not present an alternative view, the only model for how to behave in sexual relationships will come from media — not just pornography, but from music and music videos as well. Without the safeguard of knowing they have a non-judgmental parent to discuss with what they see and learn, they have no meaningful way to understand and consider the positives and negatives among the variety of sexual scripts they see in order to weigh their feeling about the perceived possibilities.

There is no easy fix to this discussion.

As adults, we need to examine the way we relate to sex and how we talk about it with each other. As we become more comfortable talking about sex with our own partners and peers, we will become more confident about discussing it as a parent as well.

To get you on your way, here are 4 steps you can take to begin addressing the problem and have conversations with your child about sex — starting right now.

1. Take a look at your own experiences of sex and sexuality.  

If you have experienced sexual trauma, this is the time to resolve any issues that remain charged or live for you. You may need help to do this or you may already get help through your social support network.

If you haven’t experienced sexual trauma, this is the time to look at any issues, stuck places, and/or negative thought patterns you have in relation to sex and sexual relationships. You can work through this on your own, with your partner, or with your social support network as well. 

2. Learn about what is normal for your children at each stage of development.  

Try to do this without judgment. Have a look at what your children are being exposed to in your wider culture. Each of us has our own moral code, and moral codes are constructed whereas sexual development is built as part of a biological process.  

You may believe that masturbation is a sin, but this is a moral belief. Biologically, ALL children discover that when they touch their genitals, it feels good. This is the way human beings are constructed. Healthy and comprehensive personal development depends on the combination of biological, psychological, spiritual, and moral development, as well as development that is culture specific.  

3. Create a safe space to have intimate conversations with your children.  

This may seem like a given, but many homes offer no safe space for a child to bring up issues around sex and sexuality. In many families, these topics are dealt with by simply handing children reading materials. There are some excellent books out there to help children with all manner of topics relating to sex and sexuality, but books are not a substitute for a home environment that fosters safe conversation.  

Your children need a place where they can get questions answered. Start creating that safe space to talk about emotions first (if you haven’t already). Once your children are used to talking about more difficult topics and you are used to dealing with these without judgment, with acceptance, and in a way that fosters growth, then you can begin to have the talks about sex.

4. Find out what is age appropriate for your child and pitch your conversation to that level.  

Talking to a five-year-old who asks where babies come from is very different from answering a question about how you get pregnant from a 10-year-old. Keep the conversations short and sweet. Do use videos, audio recordings, and books as aids, and encourage your children to come back to you with questions.

Set up a consistent routine so your child knows there will always be a time and a place to bring up these topics. If you’re not comfortable having these sorts of conversations with your child OR your child is too embarrassed to talk to you, make sure you have an alternate trusted adult (or a few) the child knows they can feel free to approach. Children thrive when they have more than one viewpoint to consider about this amazing, yet complicated part of life. 

Remember that this is a process that will continue to take shape throughout your child’s development. 

If you do so, then your young adult will also come to you with questions and your adult child will be much more likely to create satisfying intimate relationships for himself or herself.

Children who have self-knowledge and an understanding of the joy and dangers of sex are at lower the risk of becoming victims of sexual assaults.

The more knowledge you possess, the more quickly you are apt to take a firm stance, and therefore the more likely you are to be seen by a perpetrator as a difficult target. Perpetrators go for the softest targets they can find, so the harder a target you make yourself, the more you lower your risks.  

So go have that talk!


Other posts from YourTango:

10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

Our kids are at that magical age where they can DO THINGS on vacation. They can carry their own bag, dining with them is a pleasure (usually), and best of all…THEY REMEMBER IT.

Come on, don’t tell me I’m the only parent that lamented the effort and expense of trips with a babe in arms because they wouldn’t have a clue that they’d been to INSERT AMAZING PLACE and did INSERT COOL THING.

In the last year, it’s been vacation go time around here. Because once we realized that our kiddos were retaining that epic Old Faithful experience, along with that time we rode Pirates of the Caribbean, we were ready to go all in.

But make no mistake—you can pack your bags, pile everyone on a plane, invest mightily in sunscreen, and still not have a great time as a family. Family travel can be exhausting for Mom and Dad.

And isn’t the point of taking time off and doing cool things, to create memories and connections with your family?

Here are 10 things we do when we travel to connect with our kids—whether we’re just heading up to the mountains for a quick camping trip, or enjoying our annual BIG family vacation. (Not all 10 will fit into every trip, but pick a few to include on each trip and you’ll come home feeling like the trip did what it was supposed to — connect your family.)


1. Say Yes to the Stuff You Usually Say No To
Stay up later. Watch cartoons while you eat breakfast. Add whipped cream to your hot cocoa. Go for it. Being at home and staying on schedule is about keeping the regular scheduled program moving along. Let your kids see you let down your hair and enjoy an ice cream cone on a Tuesday afternoon. SPOIL YOUR DINNER. It will be fine.
10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

2. Slow Down
We rush a lot. I don’t mean to, but we do. Slowing down on vacation is on the top of my list for connecting with my kids. Every morning my son asks me to sit on the couch with him and snuggle, and sadly, sometimes that’s just not in the cards for us. But on our recent trip to Michigan, he and I spent a few mornings swinging on the back porch swing and watching the waves. What’s the totally regular thing your kids are always asking you to do? Do that.

10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

3. Try Something New
This is THE year. The winter that we teach our kiddos to ski. My husband and I spent much of our dating life canoodling on a chair lift and every winter we discuss if they are ready to hit the slopes. THEY ARE. I can’t wait to share the ski day traditions that my Mom taught me when I was a kid (always stash a Snickers bar in your coat for an afternoon snack) and lucky for me, I’m surrounded by EIGHT amazing, family-friendly resorts under the Vail Resorts umbrella. Park City…get ready for us…we’re coming.

10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

See how easy, fun, and fulfilling an epic family trip to these resorts can be!

4. Bring Grandma and Grandpa
Or cousins, or Aunts and Uncles. Go big, drag everyone along. Kids have a way of tuning out their parents and not being as open to new experiences when it’s Mom and Dad doing the pushing. But if your cousins show you how magical it is to run and jump off the boat dock, well then, LOOK OUT.
10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

5. Go Do Something You Did When You Were a Kid
Kids have a hard time imagining that their parents were ever kids themselves. Taking a vacation to a spot that you visited as a child and recreating a similar experience, or photo op, can be fun and exciting for your kids. It’s also a great way to create traditions—my husband’s family has visited Yellowstone for multiple generations, and it means a lot to my kids when my mother-in-law describes coming to the park as a child.
10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

6. Go For a Walk
Some trips lend themselves to A LOT of walking (I’m looking at your theme parks and the great outdoors) but it’s easy to sort of stay cooped up on certain trips. Taking a walk is a great way to a.) get rid of the little kid wiggles b.) see the area you’re visiting in a different way c.) talk to your kiddos about the random things that you see or think along the way.
10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

7. Collect Something on Each Trip
We’ve been bitten by the rock collecting bug. Every. Single. Trip. My kiddo’s pockets are packed with rocks and found treasures. (Post-vacation laundry is no-joke.) But this tradition has grown into something fun and sweet and I give them my undivided attention when they pour out their pockets to show me what they brought back and why.
10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

8. Play A Game
While our kids are old enough to pack a lot of fun into a day, they are still young enough (8 and 5) that a packed day will still wipe them out. So we pack games (sudoku books, a deck of cards for Go Fish) or a puzzle along so we can have some down time without clocking screen time.

10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

9. Have the Kids Help With “Chores”
Vacation or not, family travel includes a fair amount of “chores” for Mom and Dad, but those chores become a whole lot more intriguing to kiddos when it’s a bit outside their normal routine. Get some help and you’ll find that you’ve grabbed a little more quality time from your day. For example, my girl was delighted to ride the trolley in Florida to help do the grocery shopping, and hanging the laundry to dry on the line in Michigan was FASCINATING!
10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

10. Be Ridiculous and Silly
I feel like I spend a lot of my time being Not Fun Mom. But on vacation, we can be completely silly. No one knows us! So take that ridiculous selfie in front of the Hulk Hogan statue. Show it to your kids whenever you’re nagging them to pick up their socks.

10 Ways to Connect With Your Family on Vacation

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Vail Resorts. The opinions and text are all mine.


50 Brilliant Techniques That’ll Calm Stressed Kids Down IMMEDIATELY

Stressed kids? Try these tips to get them to chill.

Sometimes deep breathing isn’t the solution.

When your child is in need of tension relief, parents can help by trying one of these techniques to calm them down:

1. Try an inversion. 

For centuries, Yogis have understood the calming power of bringing the head below the level of the heart, otherwise known as inversion.

Whether it’s relaxing in child’s pose, bending over to touch your toes, or practicing a headstand, inverting the body has a restorative effect on the autonomic nervous system, which controls the body’s response to stress.

2. Visualize a quiet place.

Research has shown that visualization is beneficial for a range of populations to reduce stress levels. Ask your child to close their eyes and picture a calm, peaceful place. Then, gently guide them to slowly start to build up a picture of how it looks, smells, and feels to be there.

3. Drink water.

Dehydration has been linked to a reduction in mental performance. Pour your child a tall class of cold water and have them sip it slowly. You can try this with them, and observe the calming effect this has on your own nervous system.

4. Sing out loud.

Everyone knows the sweet relief associated with rocking out to your favorite tune. But the physical act of singing out loud, even if it is off key, has been shown to release endorphins, the “feel good” chemical in the brain.

5. Do the “Downward Facing Dog” pose. 

Just like inversions help reset the autonomic nervous system, the yoga pose known as Downward Facing Dog, in particular, has the added benefit of activating several muscles in the arms, legs, and core.

This stretch helps muscles begin to burn additional blood glucose that is made available by the body’s fight or flight response.

6. Paint it out. 

Not only does painting give the brain something to focus on other than the stressor, but participating in visual arts has been linked to resilience to stress in general.

If the thought of dragging out the tempera gives you stress, have your child try “painting” with shaving cream on a plastic shower curtain in the yard. Not only is clean up a breeze, but your child will smell great when they are finished.

7. Jump rope.

Set a timer for 2 minutes, put on some music, and challenge your child to jump to the beat of the song. If your child isn’t able to jump rope, playing hop scotch is a great alternative.

8. Jump high. 

Challenge your child to a jumping contest to see who can jump highest, longest, fastest, or slowest. This is another great way to get in some exercise to help your child blow off some steam.

9. Blow bubbles. 

Just like blowing on a pinwheel, blowing bubbles can help your child gain control of their breathing and thus, their mental state. Bonus: Running around popping bubbles is just as fun as blowing them.

10. Take a hot bath. 


After a long day at work, there is nothing more relaxing than laying in a bathtub of hot water with the lights turned down and no interruptions. The same holds true for kids.

Use bath time as a chance to help your little one unwind from the activities of the day. Introduce a few simple bath toys and allow your child to relax as long as they need to.

11. Take a cold shower. 

While the complete opposite of a hot bath, cold showers actually have a restorative effect on the body. Not only do cold or even cool showers reduce inflammation in the muscles, it improves heart flow back to the heart, and leads to a boost in mood.

One study on winter swimmers found that tension, fatigue, depression, and negative moods all decreased with regular plunges into cold water.

12. Have a cozy drink. 

There is a reason why many people herald September as the beginning of Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) season.

Drinking a warm drink on a cool day makes your body feel warm, almost like a hug from the inside. Giving your child a warm hot chocolate or warmed milk with a splash of vanilla will elicit the same response you have over that first sip of your PSL.

13. Blow out a candle. 

Light a candle for your child to blow out. Then re-light it and move it further and further away from them, so they have to take deeper and deeper breaths to blow it out. This is a great way to practice deep breathing, while making a game out of it.

14. Watch fish. 

Have you ever wondered why there is always a fish tank in hospitals and medical centers? The University of Exeter in the UK did, and found that watching fish swim in an aquarium reduces blood pressure and heart rate.

Better yet, the larger the fish tank, the greater the effect. The next time your child needs to calm down, take them to the local lake, hatchery, or aquarium for a little fish-watching therapy.

15. Count backwards from 100. 

Not only does counting give your child a chance to focus on something other than what is bothering them, counting backwards offers an added concentration challenge without overwhelming their brain.

16. Repeat a mantra. 

Create a mantra that you and your child can use to help them calm down. “I am calm” or “I am relaxed” work well, but feel free to get creative and make it something personal to you and your child.

17. Breathe into your belly. 

Most of us breathe incorrectly, especially when we are in a stressful situation. Have your child think about their belly like it is a balloon. Tell them to breathe in deep to fill the balloon, and breathe out to deflate it.

Repeat this simple process 5 times and notice the effects.

18. Shake a glitter jar. 

Calm Down Jars” have been making their way around Pinterest for a while now, but the concept behind them is sound.

Giving your child a focal point for 3-5 minutes that is not the stressor will allow their brain and body to reset itself. These jars can be made simply from sealed canning jars filled with colored water and glitter or with baby food jars filled with warm water and glitter glue.

19. Go for a run. 

Running has been shown to reduce stress, and can sometimes be more effective than a trip to the therapist’s office. Going for a 10 minute jog can not only affect your child’s mood immediately, its effects on their ability to cope with stress can last for several hours afterward.

20. Count to 5. 


Just when it seems as though they “can’t take it anymore”, have your child close their eyes and count to five. This form of 5-second meditation offers the brain a chance to reset itself and be able to look at a situation from a different perspective.

It also gives your child a chance to think before they act in a volatile situation.

21. Talk it out. 

For children who are able to verbalize their feelings, talking about what is bothering them gives them a chance to let you know what is going on while processing it for themselves.

The trick is to resist the urge to “fix” the problem. Your child needs you to listen and ask appropriate questions, not offer unsolicited advice.

22. Write a letter in the voice of your BFF. 

We would never talk to our best friend in the same critical way we talk to ourselves. The same is true for our children. Tell them to be kind to themselves, and ask them what they would tell a best friend to do in their situation.

23. Decorate a wall. 

We’re not talking about paint and decor, but poster tack and pictures from magazines or printed from the internet can give your child a chance to create large-scale temporary art in any space. The creative process is what is important, not the end result.

24. Create a vision board. 

Have your child cut out words and pictures from magazines that speak to their interests, desires, and dreams. Then have them glue these pictures and words onto a poster board to display in their room.

Not only does the process of creation allow them to think about what they want from life, displaying things they love gives them an opportunity to focus on what is really important when they are upset.

25. Give or get a bear hug. 

Hugging allows your body to produce oxytocin, a naturally occurring hormone in your body necessary for immune system function. Not only does a 20-second hug reduce blood pressure, increase feelings of well-being, and reduce the harmful physical effects of stress, both you and your child will reap the benefits!

26. Walk in nature. 

According to Stanford scientists, walking in nature has been proven to improve cognition and reduce stress. Even if you do not have time to spend the 50 minutes researchers did, taking a 15 minute walk in nature works can be just what your child needs.

27. Envision your best self. 

This is a great way to motivate your child to work toward a goal. Have them write down where they would like to see themselves in a week, a month, or a year, with this specific goal in mind.

28. Blow on a pinwheel. 

Similar to the candle exercise, blowing on a pinwheel focuses more on controlled exhalation rather than deep inhalation. Tell your child to make the pinwheel go slow, then fast, then slow to show them how they can vary the rate at which they blow out the air in their lungs.

29. Squish some putty. 

When a child plays with putty, the brain’s electrical impulses begin firing away from the areas associated with stress. Try a store bought putty or make your own.

30. Take up pottery. 


Much in the way playing with putty fires electrical impulses in your child’s brain, sculpting with clay or throwing pots can have a similar effect. It also has the added benefit of being considered “active learning”, a powerful condition that allows your child to learn through exploration.

31. Write it out. 

For older children, journaling, or writing their feelings down can have a profound effect on their mood, especially if they can do so without the fear of having it read. Give your child a notebook to keep in a safe place, and allow them to write about how they feel, assuring them you will not read it unless they ask you to.

32. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. 

A cousin to “write it out”, gratitude journaling has been linked to better performance in the classroom as well as a reduction of stress outside of learning environments. Having a separate notebook only for things your child is grateful for will give them the freedom to keep their journaling activities separate.

33. Name your emotion. 

Often when children become overwhelmed, it is because they have difficulty identifying the negative thoughts they are having. Whether your child is quick to anger, panic, or obsess to ensure things are perfect, ask them to give this feeling a name, and help them talk back to it.

For instance, by asking your child, “Is Mr. Perfect bothering you again?”, you can work together to help them challenge their perfectionism, rather than fight them over it.

34. Rock in a rocking chair. 

Not only does rocking in a rocking chair provide non-weight bearing strengthening to the knees and core, its repetitive nature offers stress-relief as well. Rock in a rocking chair with your child or allow them to rock by themselves as a way to self-soothe their frenzied emotions.

35. Push against a wall. 

This trick is perfect for allowing the body to get rid of stress hormones without having to go outside or even leave the room. Have your child try to push the wall over for 10 seconds, 3 times.

This process allows the muscles to contract in a futile attempt to bring the wall down, then relax, releasing feel-good hormones into the body.

36. Crinkle tissue paper. 

Babies are inherently aware of this trick as one of their favorite things to do is crinkle paper. Not only does crinkling tissue paper provide a satisfying noise, the textural changes in your child’s hand sends sensory feedback to the brain in a pathway away from those associated with stress.

37. Pop bubble wrap.

Anyone who has received a package in the mail knows the joy of popping row after row of bubble wrap. The same material can be found at most retailers and dollar stores and be cut into manageable pieces for stress-relief anywhere, anytime.

38. Roll a tennis ball on your back.

An old physical therapy trick, rolling a tennis ball on your child’s back will give them a gentlemassage when they are most in need of a calming touch. Focus on the shoulders, neck, and lower back as these are typical places where the body holds tension.

39. Roll a golf ball under your feet. 

Rolling a golf ball under your child’s feet can not only improve circulation, but there are pressure points on the bottom of the feet that relieve stress and relax the muscles of the feet and legs.

Roll over the entire sole of your child’s foot using various pressures for maximum benefit.

40. Go to your calm down space. 


Having a designated “Calm Down Space” in your home gives children an opportunity to retreat when they feel out of control and rejoin the group when they need to.

It is important to make this space comfortable so your child wants to visit it when they are in need of a self-imposed “time out”.

41. Play music. 

Music has a profound effect on mood, sleep, stress, and anxiety. Use a variety of musical styles to set the tone in your home, car, or your child’s room.

42. Have a dance party.

Adding a physical component to your musical enjoyment gets your kids moving and is a fun way to be active. Crank up the tunes and have a dance party in your living room when your child is in a bad mood and watch their mood transform.

43. Do a primal yell. 

Sometimes all of your child’s emotions are simply too much to contain in their body.

Have them stand with their feet shoulder width apart and imagine their feelings boiling up from their toes through their legs and body, and out of their mouths. They don’t have to yell words, or even maintain a certain pitch, just whatever comes out that feels good to them.

44. Change the scenery. 

How many times have we thought to ourselves, “Just walk away,” when confronted by a big emotion? Your child may simply need a change of scenery in order to calm down.

If you are inside, head out. If you are outside, find a quiet space indoors. Either way, change the scenery and you will likely change the mood.

45. Go for a walk. 

There’s a real reason people go for walks to clear their heads. Not only is the fresh air and exercise restorative, but the natural rhythm walking creates has a self-soothing quality.

Take your child on a walk, and they may even open up to you about what is on their mind.

46. Plan a fun activity. 

When you are in an anxious moment, it can seem as though the walls are closing in and the world will come to an end. Some children need to focus on what is ahead of them in order to reset their internal dialog.

Plan something fun to do as a family, and let your child have a say in it. Any topic that will get them focused on a future something to look forward to can be helpful.

47. Knead the bread. 

Grandmothers around the world will tell you that the process of bread making is a tremendous stress relief. Simple recipes are abundant online that allow your child to get their hands dirty turning and pushing dough.

The best part is that at the end, you have homemade bread to show for it!

48. Make a bracelet.

Crafting in general can facilitate a state of “flow” or a state characterized by complete absorption in an activity. The same concept can be extended to knitting, crochet, folding laundry, or any activity where your child forgets their external surroundings.

49. Get on a bike.

Bicycling for children has largely become a thing of the past.

With the introduction of bicycle lanes and paved trails in urban areas, bicycling is safer than ever and can be a powerful form of self-soothing. Not only is it easy on the joints, it promotes balance, exercise, and can be done with the whole family.

50. Take a coloring break. 

It’s not without good reason that restaurants give children coloring; it gives them something to focus on, and can be a great mindfulness activity that reduces anxiety.

Make a trip with your child to pick up some crayons and markers, and get them excited about filling in the pages of a coloring book.

About Renee Jain
Known as a leading childhood happiness and resilience expert, Renee’s first-of-its-kind online animation programs, GoStrengths! and GoZen!, are systematically tackling the epidemic that plagues our youth today: suicide, depression and anxiety related mental illness. 1 in 5 children will struggle with depression before the age of 18, setting them up for a lifetime of unnecessary struggle. Renee has a plan–prevention.

Renee is one of less than 300 people in the world to earn her Master’s degree in Positive Psychology – the scientific study of optimal human functioning – from the University of Pennsylvania. Renee has been personally mentored and trained by some of the top depression prevention experts in the world. A gifted life coach, she has coached over 5,000 clients in the science of resilience.

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