How to Help a Child With Anxietyby Emma Longden
With everything that has happened over the past year, it is unsurprising that children, as well as adults, are feeling the effects of an uncertain world. Whether your child has experienced symptoms of anxiety previously, or it is something that has manifested since the pandemic began last year, these are some ways you can try to help a child with anxiety.
Listen to Them
It may sound obvious, but it can be so easy to dismiss anxious thoughts in your children, thinking that you are helping them by saying their worries are unfounded. This is detrimental as it can make a child feel that the emotions they are feeling are invalid, and prevent them from reaching out for help again. Sit quietly and talk about what is concerning them, ask questions to encourage communication, and listen fully to what it is that is upsetting them. It could be something as simple as hearing the news, which has them on edge, and this could be remedied by listening to news bulletins in another room or on headphones to minimise anxiety.
Talk to a Doctor
If you are at all worried about your child's anxiety, talk to a doctor. As with physical illness, mental health issues are taken seriously, and a doctor may be able to provide further advice or contact the relevant authority to enable further help.
Talk to the School
Whether your child is currently in school, or being taught from home, it is worth getting in contact and explaining to the school and to their class teacher in particular, how they are feeling. The anxiety could be having an effect on your child's schoolwork, and it is important to keep the school informed, especially if you have also been in touch with the doctor. The school may be able to provide additional support, or offer a discussion with their pastoral support team to help you and your child.
Read a Book
There are a number of books available online to buy, which discuss anxiety, worry and other mental health issues in easy to understand formats suitable for children of all ages. There are even books specifically about the covid-19 pandemic, if this is what has caused your child's anxiety. Reading a book together may help to open up the discussion, or enable a child to articulate their emotions.
Encourage Writing in a Journal
Just as it can help adults to write a diary or journal to keep track of their thoughts and feelings, it can also help children. You can get a plain notepad for them to write in, or pick up a tailored journal, with prompts to help get them thinking about how they feel.
Provide a Safe Space
Above all, providing a safe space for your child at home, and making sure they know that you are there for them, and are willing to listen to them and help them in whatever way you can, will make all the difference for a child struggling with anxiety. Worry and fear of the unknown can make children feel alone and scared, so just being there for them is so important.