Supporting Children Through Anxiety

Children express anxiety and stress in variety of ways, from behaviour changes to bed-wetting, tantrums to withdrawal. While their expression of anxiety can vary, your response to it needs to be consistent:

Encourage expression: When you’re child says ‘I’m scared’ or ‘I’m worried’ try not to respond with ‘no you’re not, you’re a brave girl.’ Let them explain their fear/anxiety and then talk it through together.

Encourage your child to face their fears: Let them know that you will be right there by their side. If it’s a fear of the dark, hold their hand as they enter a dark room. If its separation anxiety, give then something small of yours (a photo, a keyring or something similar) to keep with them until you’re back. They don’t always need you, they just need reassurance that you’re coming back.

Teach them that perfection is a myth: Whether it’s colouring outside the lines or not doing too well in a game or test, always try to reiterate that everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Knowing that it’s ok to not be the best at everything is a really important life lesson for children and it builds resilience for adulthood.

Show them how to take time out: An over-scheduled child can become an anxious child. Be a role model – take breaks from your work, leave your phone on silent for set periods of time and just hang out together. Down time helps the mind and body to relax but children have to be taught to value that rather than seeing it as ‘boring’.