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Anxiety in Children – How Life Coaching for Kids Can Help

Nearly 10% of children 3-17 years old are diagnosed with anxiety* and many parents are struggling to get help.  US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy said at the 2022 American Psychology Association’s APA conference that parents across the country have told him that they can’t get appointments with mental health providers, or when they can, “the appointments are 6,7,8 months away”.

With a mental health system for children strained, we need to help our children before they are in crisis.

There’s hope for our children and a solution that many parents may not be aware of – life coaching for kids and mindset skills development.

Anxiety is the feeling of uneasiness such as worry, nervousness, or fear.  Most people, including our children, experience some level of anxiety from time-to-time and that is normal; however, when anxiety begins to impact day-to-day life and happiness, it’s critical to act quickly. 

The root cause of most anxiety in children is their thought patterns.  

Life coaching and mindset development focuses on thought patterns.
Coaches help children with anxiety by helping them identify and shift limiting thought patterns and while proactively creating supportive thought patterns.

Thought patterns are critical because they are at the core of our self-esteem, self-confidence, resilience, achievement, and our overall sense of happiness and well-being while helping children with anxiety..

No matter how much we love our children, we can’t give them self-esteem, we can’t give them self-confidence, and we can’t give them success in life. But what we can do is help them develop it in themselves so that they can handle the ups and downs of growing up and thrive.  Mindset skills are the key!

Renaye Thornborrow

Founder, Adventures in Wisdom

Coaching Versus Counseling

Life coaching for kids is different than counseling. And they both play a critical role in mental health and managing anxiety in children.

If you look at mental health on a spectrum, the two ends of the spectrum are mental wellness and mental illness.  

Mental wellness refers to an overall sense of well-being.  A person is able to think, feel and act in a way that is emotionally healthy – handling day-to-day experiences and bouncing back from frustrations, disappointments, and challenges in life.  Whereas mental illness refers to disturbances in the way a person thinks, feels, or acts that impacts their ability to function in life.  

Child Mental Health Continuum

Counselors and therapists focus on mental illness and helping children who are struggling to function in day-to-day life. There are many causes of mental illness such as chemical imbalance, trauma, neglect, and abuse that absolutely require the help of a mental health professional.2

Life coaching for kids focuses on mental wellness and helping children proactively develop a healthy mindset, which is the first step in managing anxiety in children.  Life coaching for kids supports children in recognizing and shifting limiting thought patterns and proactively creating supporting thought patterns to help minimize anxiety – while developing strong coping skills and resilience so they can persevere and thrive.

Here’s an infographic that shows how Coaching and Counseling BOTH support child mental health. (Click on the image to download the infographic)

Child Life Coaching vs Counseling Infographic

11-year-old Alex Gets Help from Coach while on Waiting List for Counselor

When 11-year-old Alex was so anxious that she couldn’t go to school, her parents were desperate to find her help. And there were long waiting lists for child counselors.

Someone told her parents about WISDOM Coach Lisa’s life coaching for kids services, so they thought they’d give it a try while they waited.

After one coaching session, Alex returned to school and didn’t miss another day! And her story gets better.

Read more and watch the video.

How Coaching Complemented Therapy to get Results for 11-year-old Tina

11 year-old Tina was struggling with belief in herself, telling the truth, being kind to others, and negative self-talk.

She had been in therapy for a few years and made some progress with her anger management and regulating emotions.

Given Tina’s progress with regulating her emotions and anger, Tina’s mom felt that now would be the right time to start life coaching, so that Tina would open up more, talk about her struggles, learn to manage mistakes and failures, and become happier overall.

Read about her incredible results including what Tina, her mom and WISDOM Coach Delia had to say.

Scott Shifts his Thinking During COVID

When 9-year-old Scott first entered lockdown during the pandemic, he struggled with virtual school and the uncertainly in his life.3  He missed his friends and teachers and was anxious and worried.  

He worked with WISDOM Coach® Tara around managing change. Through the coaching story Changes in Paradise, Scott realized that children experience changes in many different ways. He learned that he could shift how he was thinking about change and choose thoughts that helped him.  

By the end of the session, he was able to identify positive things about the changes he was experiencing and learned how to embrace the changes so that he would feel happier.

How Life Coaching Helps Children Develop a Healthy Mindset and Avoid Anxiety

Managing change is just one way life coaches can help children develop a healthy mindset and avoid anxiety..

      • Coaching helps kids develop self-esteem from the “inside out”. Kids learn how to base their self-esteem on who they are, not on what they have achieved, who they know, or what they do.

      • Coaching helps kids learn to believe in themselves and build self-confidence. A life coach helps kids learn how to move through anxiety and fear, so they can stretch outside of their comfort zone, create courage, and go for their dreams with confidence.
      • Coaching also helps children develop resilience skills. A life coach helps children learn how to manage life’s “curveballs” which often create anxiety — whether it’s facing a big change or dealing with a major disappointment. Kids learn how to bounce back and pick themselves up, so they can “go for it” in life.
      • Coaching helps kids develop their own “inner compass”. A life coach helps kids learn how to think for themselves and make good decisions, so they can stay true to their values, stand up to peer pressure, and be their own person.
      • Coaching helps kids learn to live life with intention versus drifting through life without direction. A life coach helps children develop a vision for their lives and learn how to achieve their goals so that they can reach their fullest potential.

I absolutely love this program and the material. It makes it easy to coach children and the stories really resonate…I have a powerful system that empowers the children and families I work with to improve their lives and become happy…

Certified WISDOM Coach® Jean

How to Shift Thought Patterns to eliminate anxiety in children?

Young children sometimes struggle to identify their feelings. At Adventures in Wisdom®, we teach children to look for the “grungies”. 

Grungies are “negative feelings” such as anxiety, fear, embarrassment, shame, guilt, helplessness, and anger.  Kids may feel that something’s not quite right – their stomach might be in knots, their thoughts might be spinning, their eyes may be teary, etc. The term grungies gives a starting point to help children learn how to identify their emotions.


Share with children that grungy feelings are usually caused by negative thoughts – we call those “dragons”.  When talking with children, play “grungies and dragons” – when grungies are present, look for the dragons.


By identifying the dragons, or negative thought patterns, children can then become aware of how their thinking is impacting their feelings.  Then, with your help, gently shift that thinking to thoughts that support them. 

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say a child is feeling grungy because her test didn’t go well.  When looking for the dragons, the child shares that she feels “stupid” and that she’s not very smart.  Feeling “stupid and not very smart” are not thought patterns that supports her in life.  

Help the child explore how she can think differently about the situation and look for thoughts that will support her such as, “I didn’t do well because I didn’t study for the test.  If I study for the next test, I can do well.”  

Can you hear the difference?  The comment, “I’m stupid and not very smart” crushes self-esteem; however, the comment, “If I study for the next test, I can do well” helps the child feel empowered and know that she can take action to change the situation.  Learning how to shift your thinking is one of the most powerful skills that children can learn and with the help of their parent or a life coach for kids, children can shift the grungies into empowerment. 

We are all facing challenging times and anxiety in children is normal. However, anxiety can be even more challenging for children because most haven’t developed the resilience and coping skills to manage worries, changes, disappointments, and frustrations. The good news is that those skills can be developed and a life coach for kids can help!

Success Story – How WISDOM Coach Sharon Helped Little Girl, “G” Conquer her Anxiety

When a child struggles with anxiety, it affects the whole family, and this was the case with 7-year-old G in Australia.

The Situation – as told by G’s Mother  

“My daughter was suffering a really extreme anxiety to the point that everyday tasks like just going down the street or going out for dinner were non-existent. It was hard on myself, [because I was] working two jobs at the time. I couldn’t be away from her longer than maybe two to three hours, and then she would start lashing out and just wanting her mum.”

The Solution – as told by WISDOM Coach® Sharon

This mother learned about WISDOM Coach® Sharon and asked Sharon to work with her daughter, G who was seven years old at the time.

When G sat down with Coach Sharon for the first time, Sharon observed that, “It was obvious she’d been through this before because she rattled off everything that was wrong with her and what she was going through.”

WISDOM Coach® Sharon’s response was, “We’re going to change the way you think about these things. We don’t have to re-hash things. You can look at how you think about them.”

Sharon worked with her step-by-step to build her confidence.

They started with a 6-week, 6- session program starting with MindPower – learning how your brain works – because it forms the basis of everything else.

Coach Sharon says, “She (G) was just so keen to tackle the next thing and get through what she has been going through.”

One victory built on the next, built on the next and her confidence grew.

Be sure to watch the video to learn more about the skills G learned.

The Result – as told G’s Mother

“Sharon helped G feel more safe within herself….We went from not being able to go grocery shopping or out to dinner, to her wanting to go out to dinner every night. She’s had a week’s holiday away from me. School is not as scary as it was. At her lowest point, G would not go to school. She would cling to me at even the thought of going to school. After working with Sharon, she goes off to school. I 100% [believe that] Sharon and her amazing work [is what] got her there. I cannot recommend Sharon highly enough. She saved me from packing up and running away.”

The Video – watch WISDOM Coach® Sharon Share this Success Story


CASE STUDY – How Mindset Skills and Life Coaching for Kids Helped 11-year-old Cindy Move Through Fear

In this video, you’ll learn what skills Rahima taught 11-year-old Cindy, including the “5 Steps for Moving Through Fear” from the Adventures in Wisdom Life Coaching for Kids Curriculum.

Cindy was struggling with a fear of the dark and had left in-person school due to social and bullying challenges.

This story is powerful!

How Parents Can Get Help for Their Children with Anxiety

If you want additional support for your child, we invite you to reach out to one of our Certified WISDOM Coaches.  Our coaches become part of your team to help your child. They can work with your child either in person or online (look for the computer icon in their directory).

Use this handy “Checklist for Parents: When to Add a Life Coach for Kids to YOUR Parenting Team” to help assess whether child life coaching might be an option for you. (Click on the image to download)

To find a coach

Visit our directory and either look through our directory or submit a short form describing the situation you’re looking for support with and our coaches will reach out directly to you.4

To explore at home

If you would like to explore grungies and dragons with your children and help them learn a powerful mindset skill for developing positive thought patterns to avoid anxiety, we invite you to check out a free coaching story from The Adventures in Wisdom Life Coaching Program for Kids Curriculum here:

Success Story – Boy goes from Anxiety and OCD to Still Thriving after 2 Years

When WISDOM Coach® Dixie started working with a 10-year-old boy two years ago, the young boy was struggling with anxiety and OCD.

Counseling wasn’t working and medication was the next step. His mother reached out to WISDOM Coach® Dixie for help.

Dixie taught Justin about how his mind works, using the MindPower program. And she taught him about how to overcome fear, mistakes, manage change and more with the Slaying Dragons program.

Justin loved the storytelling, activies, and sharing. He was able to easily integrate back into school when it returned (post-COVID), and was never medicated.

Two years later, when his mom reached out about refreshing some skills, Dixie found that not only was Justin still using the skills, he still have some of the activities and projects they did in his room!

The Video – watch WISDOM Coach® Dixie tell the story


How you Can Help Children with Anxiety as a Certified WISDOM Coach®

The WISDOM Coach® Certification program helps you create a business you love as a life coach for kids!

As a certified WISDOM Coach®, you are licensed and certified to use The Adventures in Wisdom Life Coaching Program for Kids™ curriculum (our stories and activities) in your business!  

You get:

  • The complete Adventures in Wisdom Life Coaching Program for Kids Curriculum™ with 27 mindset skills for happiness, confidence, self-esteem and more.


  • Marketing, business, and coaching tools (including the Business Accelerator Curriculum and Action Plans) to help you build and grow your business.


  • Membership in our private WISDOM Coach® Facebook Group where you’ll interact with coaches from around the world who are passionate about empowering children.

And more…

“I love the way the stories are interactive, engaging, and how I can incorporate many of my own teachings into it. It’s very versatile and accommodating and the way everything is included to get your business started is a HUGE bonus! I’m so glad that I decided to invest in this program. My own son loves Wyatt the Wise Wizard and asks me to do coaching sessions to hear what he has to say!”

Certified WISDOM Coach® Ikedah

“I have been coaching kids and teens for over 4 years by using the WISDOM System for Coaching Children curriculum from Adventures in Wisdom. I cannot thank you enough for creating a program of such a tremendous value.

The stories, together with the ideas for fun games and activities are the perfect combination for teaching children personal development skills for a lifetime!”

Certified WISDOM Coach® Delia

Inspiring and Empowering Kids…ONE STORY AT A TIME
Empowering parents since 2011
Certifying coaches since 2013


Other Resources

Signs of Anxiety in Children

Parents often see a shift in their child’s confidence or self-esteem but don’t know what happened or what to do about it.  

First, parents can share with their children that it’s OK not to be OK.  That everyone goes through down times in their life and that one of the best ways to feel better is to share what they are feeling with someone they trust. 

Second, parents can look for signs that their child might be struggling with anxiety. 

Signs to look out for in children include:

    • Changes in eating patterns – eating a lot more or a lot less than usual.
    • Changes in sleep patterns – sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal. Waking in the night or suddenly having bad dreams (new dream pattern).
    • Changes in energy – being tired or sluggish or feeling tense, restless, or fidgety.
    • Changes in interactions with others – being irritable, quick to anger, indifferent.
    • Changes in interests – not wanting to do activities they previously enjoyed.
    • Changes in language – listen for negative self-talk, increase worrying, and rumination (this often shows up as repeated questions about a situation).
    • Changes in emotions – increasingly teary, anxious, clingy.
    • Changes in physical health – complaining of headaches, stomach aches, and digestive changes (going to restroom more frequently, bedwetting/accidents, constipation, diarrhea).
    • Showing signs of self-injury or self-destructive behavior.


Where to Get Help if You Think a Child is Suicidal

If you are in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, use the contact info below to get help.

United States: 

    • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (the Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) 
    • Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.Crisis workers are available 24 hours a day. Calls are free and confidential.


Other countries & regions:


Anxiety was an issue before the pandemic, with 9.4% of children 3-17 years old diagnosed with anxiety – (3) CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html
Anxiety diagnoses increased 29% between 2016-2020 – US Department of Health and Human Services- https://tinyurl.com/4ss4j6cx

2Does your child need a counselor or a coach?  Life coaches work with mentally well children and refer children to counseling when a situation is beyond their skill set.  To see a list of guidelines provided by the International Coach Federation on when to refer, visit: https://coachingfederation.org/app/uploads/2018/05/Whitepaper-Client-Referral.pdf.  To see a list of early warning signs that someone may be struggling with their mental health, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health.

3Name changed for anonymity.

4Please note that because our WISDOM Coaches are from over 30 different countries, they have NOT completed a background check through us. As with anyone who ever works with your child, please take whatever steps you feel necessary to ensure your comfort in who is working with your child.