Anxiety is on the rise among America’s youth. Now more than ever, it’s essential that parents take steps to empower anxiety-troubled kids by providing them with an outlet for self-expression.

A recent survey of American teens reveals that 70% of respondents have observed problems with anxiety and depression among their peers. No matter what your socioeconomic status or background, anxiety can pose a severe threat to your children.

What’s Stressing Kids Out?

The top concern among today’s kids is performing well in school. The Pew Research study reveals that 61% of responding teens worry about earning good grades. Roughly half of the surveyed teens believe that alcohol and drug addiction are major problems for today’s youth. Approximately 30% worry about their appearance and the same percentage worries about social status. These issues worry teens to the point where it can lead to anxiety. Once teens enter high school, many of them worry about whether they’ll achieve their goals after graduation.

You can intervene to help your kids learn how to cope with anxiety—even when they’re young. The following are four activities to help kids deal with anxiety.

1. Get Creative. You can spark positive thinking in your children by fostering their creativity. You can begin with simple activities such as arranging pine cones and sticks during a day at the park. You can also teach your kids how to make homemade crafts such as sun catchers made from natural materials collected during your outdoor excursions.

If your child takes a liking to crafts, you can encourage them further with a simple art activity, such as adding food coloring to shaving cream on a cookie sheet so that they can make personalized designs. You can also give them household items, such as sponges and bottles so that they can make unique imprints on the cookie sheet.

Finally, if your child likes to draw, you can make a fun, interactive game by taking turns drawing parts of the same picture.

2. Help Them Leave Their Worries Behind. You can help young children and teens acknowledge their anxious thoughts by showing them how to create a worry can. You can use any container with a lid that you find around the house.

If you like, you can make a project out of it by having your child cover the outside of the container with decorated construction paper. They can name their worry can as they please. For example, they might call it:

  • Fears
  • Worries
  • Scary Things
  • Troubles
  • Problems

Once your child has named their worry can, they can write their concerns on a piece of paper and put it in the can. Your child may want to talk about the things that they put in their worry can, or simply use it to visualize throwing away their troubles.

3. Acknowledging Stressors with Journaling. Journaling is another highly beneficial therapeutic activity. There are no rules that children must follow when keeping a journal. You can encourage your child to use their journal to rationalize their feelings and explore their inner thoughts using either words or pictures. They don’t have to write in their journal every day. It’s more important that they feel that the journal is a safe place to reveal their inner thoughts when necessary.

4. Accentuate the Positive. It may also prove beneficial for your child to create a gratitude box. For instance, they can decorate an empty tissue box with stickers, labels or markers. Again, the child can label their receptacle as desired: for example, “Gratitude Box” or “Things That Make Me Grateful.” They can use the receptacle to write things that help them remember why they are thankful and refer to it later when they need a pick-me-up.

Remember never to make your child feel like something is wrong with them because they worry. But you must teach your children how to manage anxiety and stress in a healthy way so that worrying doesn’t become a problem in and of itself.