Blow bubbles. Sure, it's fun! "But in order to blow good bubbles, you have to be patient and use slow, controlled breaths -- otherwise, they'll pop," says Jane Blackwell, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Salt Lake City. "Breathing this way, with long inhales and exhales, has a real physiological effect on the body. It slows heart rate and lowers both blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol."
Get close. Even something as simple as a warm touch (like holding hands or snuggling for a few minutes) has a direct and immediate countereffect on anxiety.
Turn on some tunes. "Some kids really love to escape into music," says Donahue. And there are reams of research about music's miraculous ability to reduce stress, boost feelings of well-being -- and even lessen physical pain. And if your kid likes to dance along, so much the better, says Donahue. "Exercise is a wonderful way for children to get their ya-yas out and decompress."