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What can I do if my child is anxious?

Anxiety is being or feeling worried, stressed or nervous about things and can be as a result of things that have happened to us or having seen things happen to others.

Sometimes it is good to feel anxiety as it protects us from doing things we shouldn’t – or it warns us if we are about to do things that are dangerous.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provide help for children and young people who may be experiencing problems with their emotional or psychological wellbeing.

How do I know if my child has anxiety?

Anxiety affects us all differently – it can make us feel short of breath, give us headaches, stomach aches, affect our concentration, affect our sleeping, affect our toilet habits, make us sweaty, make our hearts beat faster or just generally make us feel on edge.

It is really important that we can try to understand how we are so affected by anxiety and then we can try different ways of managing it. For example:
  • Talking about why or how we feel anxious
  • Trying breathing exercises
  • Distracting ourselves with television, music, exercise, walking, reading, baking, drawing, knitting, sewing, gardening – anything that helps us feel more relaxed

How can I help my child?

It’s difficult to understand what your child is going through if you haven’t experienced it yourself, or why it’s happening to them. You should try and imagine being in their shoes, experiencing what they’re feeling, and not question or doubt them. You should reassure your child that you are there for them, a hug and a kiss can make a world of difference.

Remember that their worrying behaviour may be short lived, all children and young people go through stresses and strains when growing up and everyone reacts to that differently. They will be able to manage this stage better knowing that they can open up to to you and they have the support of their family. Try talking to your child asking how they think you can help – they will have the best ideas to support how they’re feeling.

How can we help?

If the anxiety continues or gets harder to manage, it’s important to ask for more help from a professional such as a school nurse or GP, who can then make a request for service from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).