Easy Ways to Help Kids Relieve Stress

School Age

With their busy schedules and pressure to perform, kids these days face a lot of stress, making stress management for kids a hot topic for parents. Our quick tricks help kids calm their nerves—whether they're anxious about a test, upset after a tough day or trying to wind down for bed. Take our tips further with a routine of healthy eating, regular physical activity and plenty of sleep!

If your child is showing signs of severe stress or anxiety, talk to his health care provider for more help.

Deep breathing exercises

Deep breathing draws in more oxygen, helping your child relax his body and mind. Try this: Choose a quiet spot to sit with your child. Have him breathe in while silently counting to three, then breathe out for three (or offer to count for him). Repeat at least three times so he gets the hang of it.

Ask your child how he feels after the deep breaths. Is he more relaxed and less worried? Work deep breathing sessions into your daily routine, like in the car on the way to school or take a few minutes after teeth brushing in the morning or at bedtime. Let him know this exercise can help him study, whether he’s at home or school. And nobody will know he’s doing it!

pdf icon
Download a deep breathing tip sheet.

Fun “brain breaks”

This tip is a fun, easy way to lower stress during big study sessions. Every 30 minutes, remind your child to take a “brain break.”

Here’s one to try: Have your child listen to his three favorite songs (a perfect 10-minute break)—and get moving—while taking a break from the books. Let him choose a fun way to get his blood pumping to his favorite tune: jumping jacks, a short walk outside, even random, silly dancing!

By taking a few minutes away from studying, he’ll refresh his brain, sharpen his focus and restore his energy before it’s time to hit the books again.

Make a stress plan

Deep breathing exercises and fun “brain breaks” are great ways to help your child relieve stress. It’s important to have an overall stress-reducing plan to keep future stress under control. A complete stress-reducing plan includes:

  1. Positive meal times. Healthy foods and enjoyable meal times help kids feel better and more connected to their family. Serve plenty of veggies and fruit, choose water over sugary or caffeine-filled drinks, and enjoy a nice conversation instead of being distracted by the TV or cellphone.
  2. Physical activity. Kids feel better and more settled when they have an opportunity to burn off some energy. Kids should get at least 60 minutes a day, but any amount helps.
  3. Sleep. A tired kid is easily frustrated by simple, daily tasks. Rule of thumb: 6- to 12-year-olds need 9 to 12 hours/day and 13- to 18-year-olds need 8 to 10 hours/day.
  4. A regular routine. Routines help kids feel more secure and in control. They need meals and snacks around the same time each day and a predictable bedtime routine. They also do best when they wake up at the same time each day.