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How Can I Worry Less?

If you’ve got a worry on your mind, you’re not alone. Most kids worry at times. Worrying is a way of thinking ahead about what might happen. It’s like a question in your mind that asks: “What if this happens?” "What if that happens?”

For example, when you worry, you might ask yourself: “Will things go well?” “Will everything be OK?” “What if don’t do well?”

If you’re worried about a problem, you might ask yourself: “How can I handle this?” “What am I going to do about this problem?”

If you’re worried about safety, you might think: “Is it safe to do this?” “Could I get hurt?”

When you face something new, like going to a new school, you might wonder: “Am I ready?” “What’s it going to be like?” “Will I find good friends?” “Will kids include me?”

If you are worried about someone you care about, you might think: “Will they be OK?” “What can I do to help?”

Can you think of a time you felt worried about something? What did you worry about? What did you do? How did things turn out?

What Should I Do When I’m Worried?

If something is worrying you, it helps to tell a parent what’s on your mind. They can listen and talk it through with you. You can feel their support. Together, you can figure out the best way to handle what you are worried about. This helps you feel more confident — and a lot less worried.

Here are some things you can do when you’re worried:

  • Let a worry come and go. If a worry crosses your mind, it’s OK. You don’t have to push it away. You can just notice it. Find the words to describe it. For example, if you notice you’re worried about going to a new school, you can say to yourself, “I’m worried about starting my new school. I don’t know yet if it will be easy to make friends.”
  • Know what a worry is. A worry is a way of thinking about what could go wrong. But it doesn’t mean things will go that way. Remind yourself that there’s a good chance things might turn out great.
  • Talk yourself through it. See if there’s something helpful you can say to yourself. For example, you could tell yourself, “I made friends at my old school, and I’ll make friends at my new school, too.” Or, “It’ll be fun to meet new kids.” Remind yourself that good things can happen: “I might find a new best friend.”

Sometimes, doing these three things is enough to help you feel more hopeful and less worried. You might be ready to let the worry go. You might be ready to focus on the good parts, and on what you can do to help things go well.

Sometimes you need a little more help to work out what you’re worried about. Here are some things to try:

  • Share what’s on your mind. When you’re worried, it helps to talk with someone — like a parent. You might just need them to listen and be there for you. When you explain a worry out loud it can seem smaller and easier to handle. Talking it through can help you think of what to do.
  • Let a parent help you. If you’re not yet sure how to handle things, or how to let the worry go, your parent can help you think it through. A parent can help you get ready for what’s ahead.

    For example, if it’s a test or a tryout, they can help you study or practice. They can remind you to think, “I’ll do the best I can.” If it’s making friends, they can role play with you. Together, you can try out friendly things to say and do. A parent can remind you that it’s OK if you don’t know exactly how things will turn out.
  • Notice the other feelings you have. When you feel worried, you have other feelings and thoughts, too. Even if part of you feels worried, another part of you might feel excited. You might think, “I can’t wait to go to middle school!” Part of you might look forward to what’s ahead. You might feel determined to do your best. “I’m going to try out for the team.” You might feel interested, curious, and hopeful.

    Don’t focus only on the worry. Notice the good feelings you have along with your worry. Think of the good things that can happen, too.
  • Face what you’re worried about. You might wish you could avoid things you worry about. But if you avoid things, you never give yourself the chance to see that you can handle them. It’s better to get prepared, find support, gather your courage, and face the worries. You might be surprised by how well things go — and what you can handle. This is how you gain courage and confidence.

What If I Worry Too Much?

It’s OK to worry at times. But some kids worry too much or too often. Too much worry is hard on kids, and it keeps them from enjoying things as much as they could. When kids worry too much, they need extra help to worry less.

Let a parent know if your worries:

  • take up a lot of your time, attention, and energy
  • cause you to feel upset, stressed, or scared
  • are on your mind every day
  • feel like a habit
  • feel like too much to handle
  • make you feel like you must do things to stay safe or keep bad things from happening

Even for big worries, there’s help to worry less. The first step is to feeling better is to let an adult know. Sharing what you’re going through — and getting the right help — can be a big relief!

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date Reviewed: Apr 5, 2023

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