Just like adults, children and young people feel worried and anxious at times.
What are the signs of anxiety in children?
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 of confidence to try new things or seem unable to face simple, everyday challenges.
- Find it hard to concentrate.
- Have problems with sleeping or eating.
- Have angry outbursts.
- Have a lot of negative thoughts.
- Start avoiding everyday activities e.g. seeing friends, going to school.
Why is my child anxious?
Some children are more likely to have worries and anxiety than others. Children often find change difficult and may become anxious following a house move or when starting a new school.
Children who have had a distressing or traumatic experience, such as a car accident or house fire, may suffer from anxiety afterwards.
Family arguments and conflict can also make children feel insecure and anxious.
Teenagers are more likely to suffer with social anxiety than other age groups, avoiding social gatherings or making excuses to get out of them.
Ways to ease anxiety in children:
- 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, look for books or films that will help them to 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 overprotective or anxious yourself
- 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 empty tissue box into a “worry” box. Get your child to write about 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
This article was adapted from https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/children-and-young-adults/advice-for-parents/anxiety-in-children/