Stress Management Strategies for Children

Stress is a feeling that most of us will experience at some point or another. For children, particularly those with anxiety, autism, or ADHD, stress can manifest itself through various behaviors and can be brought on by several triggers. 

As educators and caregivers, we can help students gain control of these emotions and manage their stress through interventions tailored to their triggers. 

  1. Help your student or child identify what happens to their body when they experience stress or anxiety. Does their heart start to race? Is their stomach queasy or palms becoming sweaty? Identifying their physical manifestations can help them identify earlier on that they are experiencing stress and may need help to calm down. 
  2. Brainstorm actions your student or child can take when they start to feel stressed. If they are just starting to worry, perhaps taking slow, deep breaths could help them regain their calm. If they are really anxious and feel like they are going to react negatively, perhaps an adult is needed to help them leave the situation and go somewhere else to calm down. 
  3. You may need to build sensory or physical exercise breaks into your student’s daily schedule as a stress management approach. Moving your body and activating muscle groups can reduce the body’s stress reactions and help your student maintain calm in the face of anxiety. 

Helping your student or child manage stress and anxiety will often require a combination of strategies and a coordinated effort among all of the adults in their life (i.e. educators, caregivers, etc.). 

Check out this example of a successful stress management scenario between a child and an educator and learn more about various stress management tools! 

The special education resources on this page were authored by Watson Institute’s special education consultants and faculty.

Part 1: Understanding = Helping

Part 2: Stress Reduction Strategies for Children

Part 3: In the Moment

If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.