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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 titled 'anxiety disorders in children’.
The NHS website includes information on 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 young 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 guidance, titled ‘What to do (and what not to do) when children are anxious.'
The YoungMinds Charity has the following chat session video that gives advice to parents about managing anxiety in children.
Anxiety about returning to school
The Young Minds website has this useful advice page titled 'What to do if your child is anxious about going back to school'
The Anna Freud Charity has created a practical guide to support pupils and students with anxiety during the period of disruption with Covid19, titled 'Helping children and young people manage anxiety' (PDF Document)
Anna Freud also have a guide for parents and carers about how to identify seven ways you can use CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to help children and young people who may be experiencing anxiety. Download '7 ways to support children and young people who are worried' guide. (PDF Document)
Anxiety Workshops and Courses:
The Suffolk Wellbeing Service has a free workshop to help parents and carers support children up to the age of 11 with anxiety, titled 'Parenting the Anxious Child'
They also have a workshop available for young people to help them copy with anxiety, titled 'Online dealing with feeling anxious for young people'
Suffolk Minds Charity run a free anxiety management course for young people aged 18 and above. Visit www.suffolkmind.org.uk
My child has anxiety, what should I do?
- Encourage your child or young person to eat healthy and keep active as this can help them to feel less anxious. Visit www.healthsuffolk.org.uk
- Show them that you care and want to understand why they feel anxious.
If your child or young person is struggling and could do with some professional support, you can:
- Make an appointment with them at your GP surgery.
- Parents and young people can make a referral or get advice from the Suffolk Children & Young People's Emotional Wellbeing Hub
- Young people can contact 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 and counselling website for 11-25 year olds. Visit: www.kooth.com
Who can I speak to for advice?
Suffolk Children and Young People's Emotional Wellbeing Hub - have a helpline for information and advice if you are concerned about the mental health of a child or young person aged 0-25. Call: 0345 600 2090 - available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 7.30pm.
YoungMinds Parent Helpline: 0808 802 5544 - available Monday-Friday, from 9.30am to 4pm.
Also see our page 'Anxiety Disorders in children'
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’
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
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).