by Tanni Haas, Ph.D.
Are your kids stressed? Do you want them to learn how to better cope with life’s big and small sources of stress in ways that are both helpful and fun? Tanni Haas, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Speech Communication Arts & Sciences at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College, compiled 10 of the most popular and kid-friendly stress-reducing apps available, and they are all free. Have your kids try different ones until they find the one they like the most.
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street
(Available at: Amazon Apps, Apple Appstore, Google Play; Age range: 5-8)
This colorful app teaches kids how to relax themselves so that they can better cope with common, everyday stressful situations. Divided into five interactive scenarios, kids help Cookie Monster take deep breaths, come up with plans for addressing these stressful situations, and then try out those plans. It includes a useful section with additional strategies and resources for parents to teach kids how to solve everyday challenges.
(Available at: Apple Appstore, Google Play; Age range: 5-12)
This app helps kids identify and respond to their emotions. When opening the app, kids are asked to name their emotions among a range of options and then choose how strongly they are experiencing those emotions. They are taught deep-breathing techniques, and are encouraged to write more independently about they feel.
(Available at: Apple Appstore; Google Play; Age range: 9-18)
This app teaches kids how to relax their bodies and minds through meditations, visualizations, and affirmations in the form of calming, positive messages. Of particular interest to many kids will be the issue-specific meditations, including ones aimed at building confidence before sports matches, doing schoolwork well, and falling asleep at night.
(Available at: Apple Appstore, Goggle Play; Age range: 5-12)
This app enhances kids’ emotional intelligence by offering more than 100 short, simple, dictionary-style definitions of common emotions, each accompanied by a unique emoticon. It helps kids to develop a richer, more expansive vocabulary of emotions, and it teaches them how to deal with those emotions so that they don’t become overwhelmed by their feelings. Kids can create and add their own emoticons for feelings that are not included in the app.
(Available at: Apple Appstore, Google Play; Age range: 5-18)
This app is designed to help kids get a good, relaxing start to their day. Like an alarm clock, it includes more than 30 soothing, nature-inspired sounds to wake your kids up slowly and gently, including birds, ocean waves, rivers, and waterfalls. The app can be used in the afternoon and evening, too, using the nap and a sleep timer function, for a stress-free end to their day.
(Available at: Amazon Apps, Apple Appstore, Google Play; Age range: 5-18)
Like Nature Melody, this app gives kids a soothing start and finish to their day, with more than 50 relaxing sounds and melodies. It has several other features, including the ability to create unique mixes by combining sounds and melodies, a collection of so-called community tunes that represent the most popular mixes, and a number of accompanying meditations.
Super Stretch Yoga
(Available at: Apple Appstore; Age range: 9-18)
Created by a well-known yoga instructor, Jessica Rosenberg, this interactive app teaches kids yoga through colorful animation and video demonstrations by real-life kids, focusing on appropriate breathing and movement. Narrated by a child-friendly character named Super Stretch, it includes 12 different poses for different skill levels. Kids can use the app’s built-in camera to take pictures of themselves doing the various poses.
Three Good Things: A Happiness Journal
(Available at: Apple Appstore; Age range: 5-18)
This app encourages kids to think positively by writing, every day, about three good experiences. It opens up to today’s date and has three sections to which kids can add happy thoughts. The app includes a feature that allows kids to share their writings more widely on social media. Research suggests that if kids consistently focus on the positive in their lives and share it with others then they will develop a more positive outlook.
Wellbeyond Meditation for Kids
(Available at: Apple Appstore; Age range: 5-8)
Like DreamyKids, this is a mediation app, but one geared towards younger kids. It has several guided meditations to help kids center themselves, focus on their breath, be in tune with their feelings, and experience empathy for others. Each meditation is narrated by a female voice that uses simple instructions to guide kids through breathing and visualizing exercises.
Wuf Shanti Yoga Fun Machine
(Available at: Amazon Apps, Apple Appstore; Google Play; Age range: 5-8)
Based on the PBS children’s show featuring the yoga dog, Wuf Shanti, this app teaches young kids yoga. It has brief video demonstrations, photos, and descriptions of a person dressed in a dog suit, who uses animal movements to explain yoga poses. The app also has meditations and videos about positive words and phrases that kids can use in stressful situations.