How to Help Children Cope with Asthma Attacks

Asthma attacks can be very scary for kids, parents, caretakers (and even unrelated onlookers). With the proper plan in place, you can help a child cope with their asthma during an attack, and limit the level of emotional damage to the child in the process.


  1. Image titled Help Children Cope with Asthma Attacks Step 1
    Learn to identify an asthma attack. For both you as carer and for the child as asthma sufferer, knowing the symptoms is a vital part of good management of asthma attacks. Typical symptoms of an asthma attack include:
    • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or very rapid breathing
    • Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
    • Coughing that won't stop
    • Chest pain or pressure
    • Tightened neck and chest muscles, called retractions
    • Difficulty talking and performing normal daily activities
    • Feelings of anxiety or panic
    • Pale, sweaty face
    • Blue lips or fingernails
    • Worsening symptoms despite use of medications
  2. Image titled Help Children Cope with Asthma Attacks Step 2
    Be sure the child knows exactly what asthma is. Use the steps above to reach the child to recognize the symptoms so they know when they're having an attack.
  3. Image titled Help Children Cope with Asthma Attacks Step 3
    Create a plan to handle the actual attacks (Asthma Action Plan). You can develop this with your doctor based on the severity of your child's attacks.
    • If you are with a child who has an 'asthma action plan,' be sure you know the steps to follow to control/manage the attack.
    • If you are with a child who does not have an asthma action plan, call the emergency services immediately.
  4. Image titled Help Children Cope with Asthma Attacks Step 4
    Create a plan to soothe the emotions involved in the attack (Asthma Coping Plan). You should always plan to remain calm in order to help the child remain calm. The plan should be simple and focused only on coping with the asthma attacks.
    • Be sure to limit the number of steps in the asthma coping plan to no more than 10 actions, and be sure to know all steps in advance.
    • Here is a personalized asthma attack action plan (suitable for a child between the ages 6-12) that you might like to adapt to your own child:
      • Remain calm.
      • Alert a medical professional.
      • Tell Barker 'everything will be okay' and help him remain calm.
      • Enforce the "no crying" rule with the "no tears" chant ("Tears, tears... go away, come again another day, little Barker wants to play, tears, tears go away").
      • Help him relax by playing soothing music or his favorite calming song.
      • Smile and help Barker smile (no laughing, as laughing can make the attack worsen).
      • Tell Barker one of his favorite stories to keep him calm and remove his focus from the attack.
      • Allow Barker to read one of his favorite books.
      • If he's calm, and coping well, play a game with Barker that does not require many words or too much physical movement, where he can relax more, like a video game or board game.
      • Hug Barker and give him massages on the arms, back, and face.
  5. Image titled Help Children Cope with Asthma Attacks Step 5
    Alert everyone who comes in contact with the child on a regular basis of the plan. This includes family members, school officials, babysitters, coaches, clergy/church members, instructors, tutors etc. The more people who know of the plan, the better the chances are of the child creating healthier coping habits.


  • Remain calm!
  • Learn the symptoms and work out a plan that works with your doctor and family to better manage asthma.
  • Adding a 'no crying' rule and a 'no laughing' rule to the plan helps to prevent the attack from worsening.


  • It is advised that emergency professionals be notified whenever an attack occurs.
  • Asthma is a serious illness that should never be taken lightly.

Article Info

Categories: Asthma