As a parent, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of anxiety in your child so that you can help them manage and overcome it. Anxiety in children is more common than you may think, and according to the NHS, 1 in 8 children aged 5 to 19 have a mental health disorder, with anxiety being one of the most common.
Here are three signs that your child may be experiencing anxiety, along with tips on how you can help them cope.
If your child is avoiding certain situations or activities, it could be a sign of anxiety. For example, if they refuse to go to school or social events, or if they become anxious about trying new things, this may be a sign of anxiety.
Tip: To help your child cope with avoidance, it’s important to be supportive and understanding. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and listen without judgement. You can also work with them to set small, achievable goals that will help them gradually build up their confidence and overcome their fears.
Anxiety can also manifest itself through physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, or difficulty sleeping. If your child is experiencing these symptoms without any apparent cause, it’s important to consider the possibility of anxiety.
Tip: To help your child cope with physical symptoms of anxiety, it’s important to encourage them to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. You can also help them develop healthy sleep habits by establishing a regular bedtime routine and creating a calm, peaceful sleeping environment.
If your child is constantly worrying about things that are beyond their control, this may be a sign of anxiety. For example, they may worry about getting sick or being separated from you.
Tip: To help your child cope with excessive worrying, it’s important to help them identify their triggers and teach them how to manage their thoughts. Encourage them to challenge negative thoughts with positive ones and to focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the future. You can also help them develop coping strategies such as distraction techniques or mindfulness exercises.
There are many factors that can contribute to anxiety in children, including genetics, environmental factors, and life events such as trauma or stress.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, some of the main causes of anxiety in children include:
Academic pressure and social anxiety can be major stressors for children, particularly as they get older.
According to a survey by the charity Childline, school was the top concern for children aged 11-18 who contacted their helpline in 2019/20.
Children can pick up on their parents’ anxiety, which can in turn contribute to their own feelings of anxiety. It’s important for parents to model healthy coping strategies and to create a supportive, nurturing environment for their children.
Traumatic experiences such as abuse, neglect, or a major life change such as a divorce or bereavement can all contribute to anxiety in children.
What to do if your child has anxiety?
If your child is experiencing anxiety, it’s important to seek professional support.
There are many organizations in the UK that provide mental health support for children and young people, including:
- Childline: A free, confidential helpline for children and young people to talk about any concerns or issues they may have.
- YoungMinds: A charity dedicated to improving the mental health of children and young people, providing information, advice, and support.
- CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services): A NHS service that provides specialist mental health support for children and young people.
Rapha Therapy Services is another option for families looking for support with anxiety. I am a BABCP Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist with over 20 year’s experience and run individual therapy sessions for children and families who are struggling with issues such as anxiety and stress.
If you feel you or or child needs some support please contact me today for a no obligation, confidential chat.