August is National Wellness Month, a great occasion to teach your kids how to cope with life’s big and small stressors in ways that are both helpful and fun. One possibility is to encourage them to download an app – or three. Below are some of the most kid-friendly, stress-reducing apps available, and the best part is that they’re all free.
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: Google Play; Age range: 9-18)
This app teaches kids how to relax their minds with guided meditations, visualizations, and affirmations through calming, positive messages. There are some issue-specific meditations that some kids might find particularly useful, including meditations aimed at building confidence before sports matches and focusing on their schoolwork.
(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 aren’t 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. It functions like an alarm clock and has more than 30 soothing, nature-inspired sounds to wake your kids up slowly and gently in the morning. 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 video demonstrations by other kids, with a focus on breathing and movement. It’s narrated by a character named Super Stretch and features 12 different poses with different skill levels. Kids can use the 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. The app helps kids think more positively by writing daily about three good experiences they’ve had. The app has a feature that lets kids upload and share their writings on social media.
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 various 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.
Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College