It wasn’t until I had a child who suffers with Anxiety that I realised I have suffered with it all my life. It wasn’t until I found my 4-year-old child having anxiety attacks, that the penny dropped. Watching him panic and obsess about having to go somewhere or trying to get something he was doing “perfect”, watching the fear take over my child, I recognized myself in him.
I realized that when I was a child myself and all through my teen years and, since I became a Mother to children with Special Needs, I have had anxiety my entire life, I just didn’t know the name for how I was feeling and reacting.
I am thankful that mindfulness and childhood anxiety has become a mainstream topic of conversation as not that long ago, children like my son who suffer with anxiety daily would have been told to “stop whinging, act like a big boy/big girl, stop being a sissy”.
The fact my son has Autism absolutely compounds his already “all encompassing” anxiety disorder. It is a daily challenge from the moment he wakes until he falls back to sleep at night. He has a constant need to control and know exactly what is happening all the time (I mean literally all the time), he “monitors” what I am doing, tries to gage what will happen next and lingers close by when he is particularly anxious. In those moments I take him up in a big warm hug and start to ask him how he is feeling but of course with Autism he can’t find his words or communicate them effectively.
He struggles with understanding emotions in himself and others, is a very literal thinker (needs things to be exactly as they appear or said to be otherwise he goes in to meltdown when he becomes overwhelmed), he thinks in black and white terms and he becomes overwhelmed with sensory needs.
Sometimes no matter what I try to do to help him it doesn’t help or other times when I can see his anxiety rising I try to act fast. One thing that has helped here with Jack is using Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps on his Ipad.
I have created a List of 9 APPs we use regularly with Jack and my other children. Most of the APPS are free to use and some cost a minimal amount. These APPS have helped us when Jack’s anxiety gets too much, when he begins to self-harm, when he is in social situations he can not handle, and it helps to steer him away from the negative thinking that really impacts his life.
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame This is a Free resource app for you to share with your child to help teach skills such as problem solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence.
You need to help a Sesame Street monster friend calm down and solve everyday challenges. This bilingual (English and Spanish), research-based app helps your child learn Sesame’s “Breathe, Think, Do” strategy for problem-solving. Tap and touch to help the monster friend take deep breaths, think of plans, and try them out! (Ages2-5)
Calm is a meditation app created for beginners and also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users. There are several programs available including Guided Meditations available in 3-5-10-15-20-25 minute sessions. It is perfect if you need an instant refocus to calm and anxiety driven mind.
This is a FREE APP.
The DreamyKid created specifically for children. It offers guided visualizations and affirmations, together with meditations.
This is a FREE APP.
Stop, Breathe & Think Kids provides a fun and easy way for children to learn to to identify and process their emotions. is a mindful games app designed specifically for kids ages 5 – 10. Kids can check into how they are feeling using fun emojis and try recommended mindful missions and meditations tuned to those emotions. Stickers reward their progress and keep the mindful activities engaging.
This is a FREE App.
Breathing Bubbles is an app that helps kids practice releasing worries and focusing on good feelings by allowing kids to select the emotion they are feeling and how strongly they are feeling it. Your child can choose Kids can choose to release a worry or receiving a joy as Manny the Manatee helps them by walking them through deep breathing and visualization. This is a FREE APP.
Smiling Mind is designed for children from ages 7 -18 and for adults too. I particularly like the section on it about Classroom Mindfulness. This is one APP in particular I have used with Hailey when she is feeling anxious.
Positive Penguins has a five minute guided meditation for children that helps to let of negative thoughts as soon as they come into their heads. There is also a strategy for children to understand that an event or situation happened that created an emotion in them – this emotion is not right or wrong, rather information – once they understand this and can examine the thoughts or stories they are telling themselves about situations they can then challenge the stories they tell themselves and help problem solve situations.
This is a PAID APP and costs €0.99
Calm Counter is a visual and audio tool to help people calm down when they are angry or anxious. The app includes a social story about anger, and audio/visual tools for calming down.
This is a PAID App costing $2.99
This APP can be used while using other APPs on your device! Listen, breathe and move… We have all the tools you need for blissful sleep:
a) 52 free sounds and melodies to create unlimited ambiances and atmospheres.
b) Brainwaves frequencies to help you reach specific states of sleep.
c) ‘Community Melodies’ driven by the best mixes of the community.
d) Mindful Minutes tracking with Apple Health.
e) Background sound support. Listen to your mixes while using other apps
What it Costs: Free
I hope you find these APP suggestions helpful. I have also created a Christmas Readiness APP list which will help children prepare for the festive season by using fun APPs and APPs that are created for Festive Social Stories. You can find a link to that here.
If your child struggles with big emotions you may find the following post helpful. You can find a link to that post which contains Free Printables here.
If you have any suggestions of Relaxing Apps for children I would love to hear your suggestions, please feel free to comment below!