Child Anxiety Program

Welcome          Who We Are          What We Do          How We Work          FAQs          Resources          Kids Corner

Top ten tips to conquer fears and worries:

1.Realize that everyone gets anxious. You are not alone.  In fact a little bit of anxiety is a good thing.  It prepares us to do our best.  It is only when anxiety gets in the way of what we want or need to do that it becomes a problem.

2.Talk about your fears with someone you trust.  Don’t keep it to yourself.  You might find that others have had similar fears and can provide useful descriptions of how they overcame them.

3.Know your body’s reactions to anxiety.  Pay attention to what your body does when you are nervous.  Does your heart beat fast?  Do your ears get hot?  Do you get a stomachache?  Knowing your body’s reactions to anxiety can help you to distinguish between when you are really sick (e.g., the flu) and when you are just nervous.  Once you know that you are nervous, you can begin to develop a plan to help yourself.

4.Pay attention to what you say to yourself in your head. If you are thinking about the worst things that can happen in a situation, you are bound to feel nervous and scared.  Instead, ask yourself, “Has this ever happened before?  How did it turn out?  Would it really be so bad if it actually did happen?  Is there anything I can tell myself to be less nervous?” 

5.Recognize the connection between your thoughts and feelings.  Thinking worried thoughts (“I can’t handle this.  It’s too scary.”) can lead a person to feel anxious.  Thinking brave thoughts (“I’m a brave person.  I can do it.”) can lead to feeling courageous and capable.

6.Brainstorm solutions to your problems.  When you are nervous or scared, there are many things that you can do to help yourself.  Make a list of all the behaviors that you can do in a scary situation.  Go ahead, list even the silly ones!  Then once your list is well developed, cross off those behaviors that are unlikely to help you cope in the situation.  What you have left is a sensible plan to combat your fears.

7.Learn how to relax. Begin by taking three deep breaths.  Pay attention to your muscles and how they feel when they are tense versus relaxed.  If you notice that your shoulders are tight and tense, for example, try to relax them by making your arms go loose and floppy.

8.Face your fears.  At first, you may think that the best way to get rid of nervousness is to avoid the things that you are afraid of.  But this is often not such a great solution.  While avoiding what you fear makes the anxiety go away in the short term, it makes the fear stronger in the long term.  Try taking small steps toward actually facing those things that you fear.  You may find that they were not as scary as you’d imagined.

9.Reward your bravery. All good attempts to face your fears should be rewarded.  It’s hard work to tackle those things that scare you.  Give yourself a pat on the back, ask your parent for your favorite dessert, or go to a movie with a friend.  You will have deserved it.

10.Don’t be concerned if your parents think that seeking treatment is a good idea to get a better handle your anxiety.  At University of Rhode Island’s Child Anxiety Program (CAP), we like to think of what we do as “lessons” in managing anxiety.  Just as you would take lessons to get better at art or soccer, you can come to the CAP to get better at dealing with your fears and worries.  Our therapists are like coaches – providing you with training and support so that you can face your fears once and for all!