Keeping Your Cool: How To Help Your Child Handle Anxiety

Adolescent anxiety is not a new occurrence, but for many parents, it may seem like it comes out of nowhere. One day you have a happy, well-adjusted child, and the next they are dealing with anger, sleep issues, and problems at school. Because there are many causes for anxiety (school pressures, problems with friends, moving to a new place, etc.) and because it can be very tricky to handle, it’s important to remember to stay calm and try as many different ways as possible to help your child feel better. They may not even realize what the problem is, so the faster you can help them get a handle on their feelings, the better.

Keep in mind that often, you can’t eliminate anxiety altogether. The most you can do is help your child find ways to de-stress, prevent those feelings, and learn how to work through them when they do come. Here are a few tips on how to do just that.

Help them cope

Most experts agree that one of the best things you can do for your child who is anxious is help them cope with their feelings. This means not avoiding the things that trigger anxiety, but rather supporting them as they face them head on. It may help your child in the moment to remove themselves from the situation, but in the long run, it’s almost always better to stay and face whatever is causing those feelings. 

Some of the more successful coping mechanisms include getting daily exercise (which can help the body release hormones that make us happy), eating well-balanced meals, getting enough sleep, and staying away from caffeine, which can make stress or anxiety worse. You can also talk to your child about finding a “happy place”–in other words, a thought or image that never fails to make them smile–and utilizing it when they begin to feel anxious. 

You might incorporate meditation or yoga into their daily exercise routine, which can help promote mindfulness and help them focus on the present rather than worry about the future or something that already happened.

Help build confidence

Many children lack the self-confidence to tell themselves that they can get through whatever is causing them to be worried, and while you can’t assure them that what they’re anxious about will never happen, you can help build up their self-esteem so that they’ll be confident enough to work through it when the time comes. This can be done by teaching them a new skill, or enrolling them in a sports or dance program. 

Don’t feed the beast

Anxiety shows itself in a number of ways in children, including anger, meltdowns, and sudden withdrawal. Instead of trying to guess what’s got your child upset by asking leading questions–such as “Are you scared no one will like you in your new class?”–keep your questions vague and ask your child to talk about what’s on their mind.

Reassure your child

A child who worries a lot may feel that they are not “normal” or that no one will like them. Reassure your child that worrying is a part of life, that it happens to everyone, and that some people are a bit more sensitive to it than others are. Let him know that it’s okay to be scared sometimes, but that you are there to help him through those moments. Show him how confident you are that he can cope with it, himself.

Remember, anxiety is not uncommon in children, but if you feel your child is suffering to the point that it’s affecting their grades or their health, it may be time to talk to a therapist or the family doctor. 


Holiday Gifts to Keep the Athletic Child in Your Life Active All Year Round

Some of the best holiday gifts we can give the children in our lives are ones to help them develop a skill and stay healthy and active year-round. For athletic kids, there are plenty of options. Here are some that should be on your shopping list this year.

For Kids Who Love Hoops

If you have a young basketball fan on your holiday shopping list, your options for gifts that will help keep them active include a new basketball, shoes, and a new hoop/goal set. While a new ball is more of an accessory (still worth looking into, though) and kids are kind of particular about their basketball shoes, a new hoop is a gift for which you can’t go wrong. Having a home goal means everything for a b-ball enthusiast, as it removes the barriers of play completely. 

For Kids Who Love the Diamond

Baseball is a great, relatively safe sport for a child to get involved in. If your little one has a penchant for America’s pastime, do note that unlike basketball, equipment for baseball players is highly age-specific. This guide offers a good breakdown, but in short, for really young kids, getting them familiar with the equipment is easy — focus on buying toy bats and soft balls. Middle-aged kids (5-8) could use a nice new tee, an age-appropriate glove, and supersoft balls. Older kids (9-12) are in the range of more regular equipment and might enjoy a batting net. 

For the Kid Who Doesn’t Really Love Ball Sports

Some kids don’t really gravitate toward ball sports, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t athletic-minded kids who want to be active. If the child on your holiday shopping list isn’t into football, basketball, baseball, or soccer, there’s a chance they could be into dance, running, other track and field sports, or swimming. 

For the serious running enthusiast, consider the gift of a fitness tracker. This will allow the kid to begin to track, record, and log their runs. Some other options to keep kids active include boxing sets (gloves, punching bags, and speed bags), a new bike, and padded safety fitness equipment (dumbbells, bench press, etc.). 

For the Kid Who Wants Something to Do During Bad Weather

No matter what kind of athlete the child on your gift list is, they are going to need something to keep them active during those times when outdoor sports are simply not feasible, such as during rainy, cold, and/or snowy days. This is where you need to get creative as a gift giver. Some really fun indoor options for physical activity include bars and rings that can be hung from doors/ceilings, indoor mini trampolines, and indoor jungle gyms/playsets. 

Those all count as “exercise” equipment, but they are also super fun. If the child on your list is focusing on one particular sport, good holiday gift ideas include things that can keep them mentally interested in the sport (if not physically active) during inclement weather. Some options include games, training videos, tickets to sporting events, and apparel. 

One of the best gifts you can give any child is something to help them in their athletic endeavors. That’s because sports can turn into hobbies that sustain them through their entire youth — and even beyond. Getting kids involved in healthy hobbies at a young age is crucial to their health and development, so you can’t do much better than stoking their athletic passions.


Teaching Kids About Self-Discipline Through Sports

Self-discipline can be a difficult thing to learn, especially for children and teenagers. Finding the will and self-control to take care of yourself, to be kind to others, and to be patient is not an easy task, but it’s an important one to master in order to become a highly motivated, self-reliant adult. 

Learning self-discipline is necessary in order to learn how to be strong where substance abuse is concerned, as well. Many kids and teens are faced with pressures every day to conform to the image their peers set, and this can include dangerous habits that could stick with them for a lifetime. One of the best ways to help young people learn how to make informed decisions is through sports, where they can interact with other people their age and learn how to make sacrifices, be a team player, and how to take care of their bodies. 

“We worked with information provided by parents and teachers to compare kindergarteners’ activities with their classroom engagement as they grew up. By time they reached the fourth grade, kids who played structured sports were identifiably better at following instructions and remaining focused in the classroom. There is something specific to the sporting environment — perhaps the unique sense of belonging to a team to a special group with a common goal — that appears to help kids understand the importance of respecting the rules and honoring responsibilities,” says Dr. Linda Pagani.

Here are some of the best things kids can learn through sports where self-discipline is concerned. 

Playing on a team

Playing on a team can help a young person realize their value and the value of others when they make contributions to a game. It can boost self-esteem and confidence, as well as help them be considerate of others and elevate their empathy skills. Team sports are a wonderful way to help kids learn about self-discipline because they must be patient when it comes to letting their teammates play or take control of the ball. 


Learning how to take care of yourself through diet and exercise is important, but many kids these days would rather sit indoors and play games on a tablet than get up and get moving. Sports can help them understand the importance of eating the right things, getting enough rest, and working out daily, which can be difficult to do without a little guidance. 

Time management

If you’ve ever argued for fifteen minutes with your child in the morning about putting their shoes on, you know it can be tricky to get them to feel any sense of urgency where time management is concerned. Playing sports can definitely help with that, as they’ll learn they have to be on time for practice and games and that other people’s time is valuable. 

Practice makes perfect

Practicing is an essential part of playing any sport, which can teach kids how to reach their potential without fear and to hold themselves accountable for their mistakes. 


Young people can be positively affected by the influence of a coach in their lives, especially during competition, where they can see the results of all the hard work they’ve been doing under the coach’s tutelage. Having this support outside the family can help your child find sufficient motivation even when they’re tired or are feeling low about their abilities. 

It’s never easy to keep kids on track, especially since their attitudes and goals change on a whim. Sports can help your child find encouragement, self-confidence, and discipline even if they only participate for a short time.