Technology – it’s here and we can’t avoid it. As much as we may try to limit our children’s screen time, there actually may be some benefit to letting our children use their iPads, iPods, android devices, or smartphone. For anxious children, there are actually apps out there that can help children to identify their feelings, manage their thoughts, and find ways to decrease the experience of anxiety.
If our young kids or teens are going to be immersed in a mobile device, let it be something that can help ease their anxiety. And giving apps like these can help ease parental guilt that they’re giving in to digital temptation.
Positive Penguins helps kids understand what they’re feeling
This is an app that uses four positive penguins to help children understand that their feelings are very much influenced by their thoughts, the thoughts that are running in the background. The Positive Penguins give your child a place to speak or type their thoughts. This takes those intangible, ambiguous thoughts and makes them tangible. The app provides a forum for negative thoughts as they are happening as your child learns how to identify those thoughts within the situation. Realistic and positive ways of interpreting the situation are then reviewed. When your child needs a break, there are games to play too! An interesting note – this app was originally created by an Australian 11-year-old and her two brothers.
Age Range: Ages 9-11
Platform: Apple; Android
Price: iOS @ $ .99; Android @ $1.99
Developed by: PositivePenguins.com
Worry Box helps kids sort through worries
This app serves as a journal for children and adolescents to record their worrisome thoughts. Steps are then identified in managing the worry. Coping strategies and statements can be selected from a list especially if the worry feels uncontrollable in an effort to think about the worrisome situation differently. This self-help app even will link to articles at ExcelAtLife.com about CBT approaches to managing worries.
Age Range: Ages 6-16
Developed by: Excel At Life
Bedtime Meditations for Kids relaxes kids for a good night’s sleep
Evan after a busy day, our minds don’t quiet down just because our body wants to. So, for your child with an over-active mind, here’s a meditation app that takes the focus off of his/her thoughts and onto positive and quiet messages to help your child settle down and fall asleep peacefully.
Age Range: Up to age 12
Platform: Apple iPhone, iPad, and iTouch (require iOS 7.0 or later)
Developed by: Diviniti Publishing Ltd. (by Christiane Kerr)
Breathe2Relax is a stress reduction tool
When we are anxious, our breaths become shallower which ends up revving up our body and mind. We know that the power of the breath is amazing and can take a body that is ready to run or scream, and calm it down. Use this app, described as a “portable stress management tool”, to help your child to use deep breathing exercises to decrease the experience of anxiety. The deep breathing exercises (“belly breathing”) not only decreases the experience of anxiety but creates distraction from anxious thoughts that can be negatively impact focus and ability to complete tasks in school or at home.
Age Range: Age 6+
Platform: Android, iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod)
Developed by: National Center for Telehealth & Technology
Songza – playlists for your anxious teen
Our kids love to listen to music. Songza is a song streaming service for web and mobile devices. It allows a child to select an activity relevant to the day and time with music options. The music is helpful in calming your child while coming down from a school day, or just wanting to play a game to unwind.
Age Range: Age 13+
Platform: Android, iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch)
Developed by: Songza Media, Inc.
Liz Matheis, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist in Parsippany, NJ. Specializing in autism, ADHD, anxiety, and learning/behavioral disorders, she offers parent coaching and psycho-educational assessments. Dr. Matheis contributes to various magazines and blogs, providing practical solutions to complex issues, enabling children and families to reach their full potential.