anxiety in children

Is it normal for kids to be anxious sometimes?

Anxiety encompasses a spectrum of emotions, ranging from mild unease to intense fear, that everyone experiences at some point in their life. For children, situations like facing a test, spending the day apart from a parent or going to a lesson they don’t like, can all evoke feelings of worry and apprehension, which is a normal response to stress. If their anxiety persists beyond specific situations and begins to impact their daily functioning, this could indicate a chronic pattern of anxiety that will require attention and support. 

Understanding childhood anxiety

Anxiety is very normal and in children it can manifest in various ways, such as excessive worrying, fearfulness, avoidance of certain situations, physical symptoms like stomach aches or headaches and difficulty concentrating.

Factors that contribute to childhood anxiety

    1. Environment - environmental factors such as parenting style, family dynamics, traumatic events and societal pressures, can influence a child’s anxiety levels. 
    2. Temperament - each child has a unique temperament which influences how they perceive and respond to situations. Some children are naturally more sensitive or cautious, making them more prone to anxiety.
    3. Life transitions - life transitions such as starting school, moving to a new place, parental divorce, or the birth of a sibling can trigger anxiety in children. These transitions disrupt their sense of stability and predictability, leading to feelings of uncertainty and fear.

Normalising childhood anxiety

It’s essential to recognise that experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of childhood development. Just like adults, children encounter stressful situations that evoke feelings of anxiety. These experiences can help children to develop resilience and coping skills, preparing them to navigate future challenges. 

A certain level of anxiety can be adaptive, motivating children to study for exams, practice for a sports event, or avoid dangerous situations. When managed effectively, anxiety can serve as a protective mechanism, altering children to potential threats and helping them to stay safe.

Moreover, a certain level of anxiety can be adaptive, motivating children to study for exams, practice for a sports event, or avoid dangerous situations. When managed effectively, anxiety can serve as a protective mechanism, alerting children to potential threats and helping them stay safe.

Supporting anxious children

Whilst occasional anxiety is normal, persistent or intense anxiety that interferes with a child’s daily functioning requires attention and support. Here are some strategies for supporting anxious children

      1. Validate their feelings - listen to your child’s concerns without judgement. Let them know that it’s ok to feel anxious and reassure them that you’re there to support them.
      2. Teach coping mechanisms - teach your child coping skills such as deep breathing, mindfulness, positive self-talk and problem solving techniques. My Little Morphée is our screen-free meditation device that can help with feelings of anxiety. There are over 190 guided-meditation sessions, as well as soothing nature sounds which can help your child to unwind and shift their focus from their stresses to the present moment. 
      3. Establish a routine - establishing predictable routines can help reduce anxiety in children by providing structure and stability. Consistent bedtime routines, meal times, and homework schedules can create a sense of security and control.
      4. Encourage healthy habits - encourage your child to engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as physical exercise, creative expression, spending time in nature and  meditation with My Little Morphée.
      5. Seek professional help - if your child’s anxiety significantly impacts their day to day life, or persists over a long period of time, consider seeking professional help from a GP. They can then advise you on next steps which could include therapy and counselling to help address the situation.

    In conclusion, it's normal for kids to feel anxious sometimes as they navigate the ups and downs of childhood. Whilst occasional anxiety is a natural part of development, persistent or intense anxiety may require the attention and support from parents or mental health professionals. By understanding the factors that could be contributing to their anxiety, and implementing strategies to support them, you can help them to understand their feelings and keep on top of them. 

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