Children often feel anxious or nervous at times. It's a natural part of dealing with all the changes indicative of childhood and adolescence. But if worrying thoughts are bothering them the majority of the time, or are interfering with their day to day life, it may be time to consider the support of a professional. There are some particular physical, emotional and behavioural signs which could mean your child is suffering from anxiety. Keeping an eye out for these symptoms can help you begin to determine whether anxiety may be becoming a problem for your child. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to anxiety, and it comes in many forms and degrees of severity, which is why it is helpful to seek the support of a professional counsellor or psychotherapist, who can help support both you and your child to manage their anxiety.
If your child is experiencing anxiety they may:
avoid everyday activities such as school or clubs
be irritable, tearful, angry or withdrawn
be prone to angry outbursts
be reluctant to try new things
be unable to cope with everyday challenges
experience difficulty eating properly
experience intrusive thoughts (unwanted thoughts that they find difficult to get out of their head)
find it difficult to concentrate
have frequent tummy upsets
have trouble sleeping properly
seek constant reassurance
show a loss of enthusiasm in their usual interests
struggle with nightmares (e.g. about losing a loved one)
worry excessively about being told off
worry excessively that bad things are going to happen
If you feel something is amiss, or there is something that is making you or your child unhappy, however small it is please know support is available. Parents and caregivers can find free help and advice on children's mental health from Young Minds' free parent helpline which is open Monday-Friday from 9:30am to 4pm. You can call them on 0808 802 5544. Counselling can help your child to understand what is making them anxious, teach them how to work through their anxiety and can provide coping strategies and tools for your child to be able to manage their anxiety.
If you would like to find more out about what professional support for your child could look like, please check out the information here. If you would like to book a counselling appointment for your child and are based in Edinburgh, or would like to have a brief chat, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me here.
Finally, it's really common for parents and caregivers to blame themselves when they see their child suffering from anxiety. You may wonder what has happened to cause your child to feel anxious, or worry what you did wrong. But some children are simply born more prone to anxiety than others. Stressful life events may also cause anxiety to flare up, for example school changes, house moves, stressful exams or being bullied. If you can, try to let go of this feeling of guilt. You are doing the best you can, and by reading this you are learning more about your child, their anxiety, and what you can do to help.