If you are worried that your child’s anxiety is impacting negatively on his or her life then it’s a good idea to seek support. You’ll find some great advice for parents of anxious children on the Young Minds website, which outlines the different types of anxiety and how parents can help anxious children to develop coping strategies. There is also information for older anxious children and teens to read for themselves and clear factsheets written by The Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Young Minds have a parents’ support line (0808 802 5544) which you can phone to get one-to-one support on any emotional or mental health issue affecting children. For more general parenting advice – or if Bullying is a concern – then Family Lives also have a helpline (0808 800 2222). And, whatever the source of their worries, anxious children can get telephone support from ChildLine (0800 1111).
Another charity that is worth checking out is Anxiety UK which supports anxious adults as well as anxious children. Their Helping Your Child service teaches parents essential skills and strategies for supporting children with anxiety. Or, if exams or schoolwork are piling on the pressure, then the NHS has some useful advice on how parents can help.
For information about services available in your local area, contact your local Family Information Service. They will have the contact details for local charities, council services, support groups and local health services. And don’t forget to talk to your child’s school or nursery as they will have lots of relevant experience in supporting anxious children. For example, they might be able to support your child in using a calming strategy like Finger Breathing.
You might also want to have a look at some Books to help children with anxiety or try out CBT-based mindfulness apps specifically for children/teens. Or watch this free video tutorial for lots more ideas for self soothe strategies.
And if you are really worried, go see your GP. If you are nervous about talking in front of your child (or are worried it will make things worse) then make an appointment in their name but go alone. That way you can explain everything to the doctor without feeling constrained. The doctor will need to see your child before being able to make any assessment or referral but it can be useful for him/her to be prepared in advance about anxious children so that they can strike the right note and identify the right support.
Parents of teenagers might find these support websites useful and these books for supporting children’s mental health. You might also like to read my posts on Building children’s self-esteem and Bullying: where to find help.
Don’t forget, you are not alone so do reach out to other parents. A lot of children face mental or emotional health challenges in their lives, so don’t be afraid to seek support.