Anxiety in children and young people - information and advice for parents and carers
Is it normal for children and young people to feel anxious?
Anxious behaviour is common in children and young people. Most learn to deal with fears and worries. However, help may be needed if:
- They feel anxious more than other children/young people of their age and level,
- Their anxiety stops them participating in activities at school, university or socially,
- Their anxiety affects their ability to do things that other children/young people their age do easily.
The NHS Choices website has a useful section aimed at parent/carers about anxiety disorders in children, which includes how to recognise the signs and symptoms, and the different types of anxiety.
Spotting the signs of anxiety in children and young people
Some common signs of anxiety in children are:
- Very clinging
- Asking for help with things they can do for themselves
- They won’t get ready for school
- Won’t go to sleep without a parent/adult
- Frequent complaints of stomach pains or headaches
- Fears - the dark, animals, injections, being alone, germs and tests
- Frequently cries over small things.
The most common anxiety disorders in primary school-aged children are phobias and separation anxiety.
In teenager’s, anxiety may appear as:
- Suddenly avoiding social interactions with usual friends
- Withdrawal from their favourite activities
- Preferring to spend increasingly more time alone.
The Child Mind Institute website has some useful information about What to do (and what not to do) when children are anxious.
Anxiety resources to help children returning to school:
- Wellbeing in Education website
- Young Minds website - What to do if your child is anxious about going back to school
- Anna Freud Booklet - '7 ways to support children and young people who are worried'. (PDF Document)
Anxiety Workshops and Courses:
- The Wellbeing Service has free workshops to help parents and carers support children up to the age of 11 with anxiety, visit the Wellbeing Suffolk Website
My child has anxiety, what should I do, and where can I get support?
- Encourage them to eat healthy and stay active as both help to support our emotional wellbeing. For healthy living support, visit www.healthysuffolk.org.uk
- Show them that you care and find out why they are feeling anxious.
- Try to reduce their exposure to the news on TV and social media - Feelings of anxiety in children and young people has increased in the last few years due to news headlines around Covid and Ukraine, causing young people to worry more about their future.
- Make an appointment with them to speak to a GP.
- If they need specialist mental health support, you can make a referral to the Children & Young People's Emotional Wellbeing Hub (East and West Suffolk) Or visit Just One Norfolk for mental health support services if you live in Lowestoft and Waveney.
- If you do not need to make a referral for specialist support, but would like to speak to someone for general wellbeing guidance, parents and carers can call the Barnardo's phoneline service on 0345 600 2090 and press option 2. (Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm)
- Young people can text the Suffolk School Nursing ChatHealth Service for confidential health advice from a school nurse. Send a text to: 07507 333356 (available Mon-Fri 9.30am to 4.30pm).
- Tell your young person about Kooth, a free and friendly online emotional wellbeing service offering a chat messaging service, free counselling, and peer-to-peer support for young people throughout Suffolk aged 11-25. Visit: www.kooth.com
The Source website has lots of information and support about anxiety aimed at young people in Suffolk.
- You can contact the YoungMinds Parent Helpline
For urgent mental health support
- Call 111, option 2 NHS Mental Health Crisis Line (24/7 helpline for anyone of any age.)
Also see our page 'Anxiety Disorders in children'
Talking to your child/young person about thoughts and feelings
The NHS Choices website - has an advice page on how to start a conversation with your child tiled ‘Talking to children about their feelings’
MindEd-for families website - has a resourceful section for parents and carers about how to find ways to communicate on ‘to children and teenagers when they might need it, titled 'Talking to My Child’
Resources to support children/young people's emotional wellbeing
The Childline website - has a good anxiety advice page for children, titled 'Managing Your Anxiety'
The Relax Kids website - has lots of creative support packs for kids about: anxiety, beter sleep, self-esteem, anger management and concerntration, but you do need to register and pay to download them from their website, visit www.relaxkids.com
The Source for young people in Suffolk - is a local website for young people in Suffolk that covers various emotional wellbeing topics, including anxiety. Visit: The Source website - anxiety advice page
Suffolk Minds - has some really good information about 'emotional needs' and resources for children on their website. Visit www.suffolkminds.org.uk
YoungMinds Charity - has a whole lot of information and advice on their website about anxiety and what to do about it, aimed at young people, visit www.youngminds.org.uk
The YoungMinds website also has lots of 20 minute activity ideas, and video chat session on 'managing anxiety in children' in their Parents Lounge
The Royal College of Psychiatrists website - has some good tips for how parents and carers can help stop their child being anxious on their page titled, ‘worries and anxiety-helping children to cope:information for parents and carers’.
The Boy, The Mole and The horse, by Charlie Mackesy - This is a wonderfully heart-warming book which provides thoughful, positive life lessons through the animal characters. Charlie is a Suffolk based illustrator whose art is known around the world.
Suffolk Libraries - has a list of self-help books suitable for young people and parent/carers available to request. Visit: www.suffolklibraries.co.uk
Suffolk Parent Hub - has various book recommendations to help parent/carers support children with all sorts of issues. Visit: Suffolk Count Council Website - Parent Hub
For helpful Apps that can provide some in-hand support to a young person struggling with an emotional wellbeing issue, please see a list of recommended wellbeing Apps approved by young people on The Source website. Visit:The Source - 'if the App fits' page
Local support groups and community organisations who can help
To search for emotional wellbeing support groups in your area see our list: local support services and organisations for anxiety (You can filter the list to find what you need).