One thing that we frequently notice in children with learning disabilities is a tendency to be anxious. With the world expecting many things that their brains have to work extra hard to accomplish, it’s no wonder that these children may feel worried a little more often. When working with children, a neuropsychologist must often first help to soothe anxiety before the evaluations and therapy can begin. Through our experience with this situation, we’ve learned three great ways to help calm down the anxiety that parents can use as well.

Do One Easy, Yet Focused, Task

If there’s one thing that can help anxiety, it’s doing something that is very easy to get lost in. Coloring is a very good example. This activity is something that a child can focus on, blocking out all the things they are worried about, but it’s not usually difficult. The key is to know your child. If they aren’t fond of coloring, or have a hard time gripping crayons, try putting together a puzzle or building with blocks. Any focused task that allows your child to really narrow their view to a single thing can help them feel less anxious.

Go for a Quiet Walk

Another way that you can help a child feel less anxious is to get away from the environment where they are feeling overwhelmed. Getting out into nature can definitely help anyone feel calmer, and gentle movement like walking can also help to soothe anxious energy. Go for a walk in a quiet area, like a quiet walking trail, a park, or in the woods if you live nearby a safe area. Gently point out any animals or plants that you may see to keep your child focus on the moment.

Play a Simple Game Together

Finally, playing a simple game together is a good way to help a child calm down. Try something like Go Fish or Candy Land for younger children, and something slightly more complex for older kids, such as their favorite board game or I Spy. This not only helps to distract your child from their anxiety, but also reaffirms that you are there with them, which can help them feel supported. Keep a mental note of what games your child really loves so you can fall back on those in anxious moments.

Learn more from children’s neuropsychologist Dr. Joshua Shifrin in Livingston, New Jersey, and New City, New York.