What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or panic. Feeling generally anxious sometimes is normal. Most people worry about something – money or exams – but once the difficult situation is over, you feel better and calm down.
If the problem has gone but the feeling of fear or panic stays or even gets stronger, that’s when anxiety becomes a problem.
With as many as one in six young people experiencing anxiety at some point, it is very common to have anxiety. (YoungMinds)
There has been a sharp rise in young people facing anxiety in the last year. Our figures reveal:
- a rise of 35% Childline counselling sessions about anxiety in the last year
- almost 6,500 Childline counselling sessions in the last 6 months
- anxiety a feature with children as young as 8, with girls 7 times more likely to contact than boys.
Causes ranged from personal and family issues to concerns about world affairs such as the EU Referendum, the US Election and troubles in the Middle East.
Research indicates the reasons for the sharp rise are down to a combination of personal and political issues, with some young people talking to counsellors about problems in their day-to-day life while others cite disturbing events seen in the media and social media as being the source of their worries. (NSPCC)
What are the signs of anxiety in children?
When young children feel anxious, they cannot always understand or express what they are feeling. You may notice that they:
- become irritable, tearful or clingy
- have difficulty sleeping
- wake in the night
- start wetting the bed
- have bad dreams
In older children you may notice that they:
- lack the confidence to try new things or seem unable to face simple, everyday challenges
- find it hard to concentrate
- have problems with sleeping or eating
- are prone to angry outbursts
- have negative thoughts going round and round their head, or keep thinking that bad things are going to happen
- start avoiding everyday activities, such as seeing friends, going out in public or attending school
Other ways to ease anxiety in children
- Teach your child to recognise signs of anxiety in themselves and to ask for help when it strikes.
- Children of all ages find routines reassuring so try to stick to regular daily routines where possible.
- If your child is anxious because of distressing events, such as a bereavement or separation, see if you can find books or films that will help them understand their feelings.
- If you know a change, such as a house move is coming up, prepare your child by talking to them about what is going to happen and why.
- Try not to become anxious yourself or overprotective – rather than doing things for your child or helping them to avoid anxiety-provoking situations, encourage your child to find ways to manage them.
- Practice simple relaxation techniques with your child, such as taking three deep, slow breaths, breathing in for a count of three and out for three. You’ll find more relaxation techniques for children on the Moodcafe website.
- Distraction can be helpful for young children. For example, if they are anxious about going to nursery, play games on the way there, such as seeing who can spot the most red cars.
- Turn an old tissue box into a “worry” box. Get your child to write down or draw their worries and post them into the box. Then you can sort through the box together at the end of the day or week.
(Taken from NHS website)
If you are concerned about your child’s anxiety, please seek support and advice through taking your child to their GP’s and contacting school so support can be put into place.
The following website links have valuable information to help support your child:
Reach4Wellbeing – www.hacw.nhs.uk