Children learn to manage anxiety through play. In the safe space of play, children can suspend the rules and restrictions of reality. When a child plays, he or she has the option of becoming the master rather than being the subject. A child can make decisions during play rather than abide by an adult’s decisions. In a safe play space, a child can get relief from some of life’s uninvited circumstances.

Parents can help children play out their anxiety about particular situations by giving them space to play. That means letting children play rather than directing their play. Spontaneity is at the heart of play, and children are experts at spontaneity. Give your child permission to play and then follow his or her lead and pace. Let your child play out what’s on his or her mind in the safe space of play and avoid injecting your own agenda about what the child should be doing.

Through play, children learn to become active and empowered to do something about what is happening around them.