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Strategies to Help a Nervous Child

By Eliza Martinez ; Updated June 13, 2017

Some children are nervous in many situations, while others become nervous before a big event. In either case, helping your child deal with her feelings helps her handle situations that scare her. If you worry that your child's nervousness may be due to extreme stress or an anxiety disorder, contact her doctor. Several strategies allow you to help your child work through her nervous feelings and feel better in situations that worry her.


Feelings of nervousness stem from many factors. Children who worry about pleasing parents, friends and teachers may be nervous to express themselves, perform in school or talk with peers. Stress at home, whether due to financial strain, divorce or illness, might also cause a child to feel nervous. Some children who don't appear nervous in most situations might feel so when asked to perform in front of others or when taking a test. Helping your child work through these feelings gives him tools to do so on his own in worrisome situations.


For some children, expressing their fears and talking about what makes them nervous helps them find a solution. However, it is up to you as a parent to listen without jumping in and criticizing. Iowa State University recommends giving your child the opportunity to talk to you throughout the day, but avoid forcing her to discuss issues she isn't ready or willing to talk about. This gives your child the chance to come to you without fear that you won't take her side and help her, which could make her nervous around you as well. Telling your child about how you handled a stressful situation that made you nervous and reading books about nervous children are other ways to facilitate a talk about her feelings.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques together allows you to build a comfortable relationship with your child. Having a connection to you and feeling loved helps your child deal with nervousness and stress more effectively, according to Iowa State University. Deep breathing is a good option for practicing at home, school or in the car. Yoga and meditation are other good choices for practicing relaxation at home. Use these forms of relaxation when your child feels nervous before a big game, a test, when starting a new school or struggling with a friendship. Relaxation techniques are also a good way to calm a child who feels nervous in most situations outside the home, when used on a regular basis.


Role-play is a powerful way to arm your child with phrases and actions to use when a situation that makes him nervous happens. Practice what he could do and say if the school bully approaches him, he forgets his lines during the play or blanks on the answers to a big exam. Knowing what he will do in these instances is a good way to keep nervous feelings at bay or prevent them from happening at all. For example, if your child forgets his lines, he could practice looking for his teacher or a cast member who can prompt him.

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