Children and Anxiety
Are you worried or concerned that your child may be suffering from anxiety? Are you concerned that your child often feels worried, nervous, or afraid?
In today’s blog, I’m going to tell you a little bit about anxiety in children, the signs to look out for, and how you can help your child.
We all have worries from time to time, some worries are small, some worries are big, and your child may be prone to worry more than others. Sometimes, even after reassuring your child, certain worries play on their mind and they can’t shake them off. This does not necessarily mean they have anxiety, however, it’s a good idea to talk to them openly about their worries and concerns. Just like how anxiety is for adults, it is similar for children in that it is this persistent worry about some things, and no matter how much you reassure your child, the worry just does not go away. It can be a realistic and logical worry, for example about exams, or it can be an unrealistic worry which can be difficult for a child to explain and talk about.
What to look out for if you are worried about your child:
- They may struggle with concentration
- They may be reluctant to try new things
- Eating and sleeping patterns may change
- They may seem unable to cope with everyday chores
- They may have angry outbursts or other changes to behaviours
- They may worry excessively that something bad may happen
- They may avoid doing things they would normally do
1. Firstly, as I have already said, talk to them openly about whatever is worrying them. Sometimes they may not be able to explain what is worrying them, especially if it is an unrealistic worry or they may feel embarrassed to talk about what is worrying them. But letting them know that you are with them will give them that reassurance that they are not alone.
2. Don’t avoid things. It may be tempting to avoid things that make your child anxious, however, this relief will only be short-lived, but the anxiety will be long term.
3. Be positive, but realistic. For example, if your child has anxiety around a test or exam, you cannot promise that he/she will pass with flying colours! However, you can express confidence that he/she will be ok, and will manage to face the test/exam. This will give the message of confidence that your expectations are realistic.
4. Respect their feelings. If your child is telling you about an unrealistic worry or concern, listen to them respectfully, without judgement. Try to listen to them empathically and validate how they are feeling. For example a statement like “I know you are scared about going to the dentist and that’s ok, I’ll be with you the whole time”, is a positive statement as you have validated their feelings and encouraged her/him to face the fears.