Anxiety in childhood is one of the most common Mental Health challenges that parents are faced with in todays society.
Did you know that according to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five children will experience some level of clinical anxiety by the time they reach their teenage years.
Thankfully for most children, these feelings wont last, but for some, they will, especially for those children that don’t get the right level of support or help. With the increase of social media, children feel pressure and anxiety from online platforms in addition to their daily challenges whilst growing up.
When children are anxious, even the most well meaning parent can appear to say or do, ‘the wrong thing’, so here are 5 takeaway tips that all parents can utilise to help their child manage their anxiety if the need arises:-
1. It’s good to talk
Talk to your child about anxiety and why it occurs, how it can feel and how common it is. Help them to understand their feelings and that they don’t have to deal with it on their own as feeling anxious can be very overwhelming, consuming and isolating.
2. Warning signals
Look out for the first signs that your child is getting anxious. This could be things like disrupted sleep or lack of focus. Encourage your child to identify what makes them anxious too, so you can talk it through and put a plan in place together and try to prevent it escalating. Using a ‘worry diary’ may be a benefit to help you both see the tends, causes or triggers.
3. Face the fear
Listen, be empathetic and don’t belittle the fear. Help them see ways they can overcome the fear and help them to build their confidence to do it. Always remind them that you know it is not easy and you are proud of them for trying.
4. Screen time
Too much screen time often leads to increased levels of anxiety and depression. Media portrayals don’t help to keep things realistic and rational and too much time on social media can be informal pressure around expectations. Limiting screen time allows for other activities and prevents isolation. This is especially important at least an hour before going to bed.
5. Healthy lifestyle
Regular exercise helps to reduce the levels of stress hormones and promotes good sleep. Introduce activities that can be fun and easily added into daily routines like walking, cycling or trampolining. Activities like yoga and meditation are great to relax the mind too
Of course if you feel overwhelmed by your child’s anxiety or it has been going on for a sustained period of time and is getting worse, don’t hesitate to get professional medical help !