Help! I think my child may have anxiety – what do I do?

Anxiety in adults is often managed through talking therapy, CBT or medication. However, increasingly we are seeing anxiety in children who may not have the self-awareness to express their feelings in a way that makes clear what is causing the problem or how we can help. For children especially, the most difficult thing about anxiety is trying to explain how they feel. “What are you worried about?” can be a very tricky question to answer: Feelings of anxiety can be very confusing for children, which in turn adds to the anxiety and makes it even worse.

What exactly is anxiety?

All children worry – exams, friendship or family difficulties such as bullying or divorce, moving school or house can all be scary and a little overwhelming, but those normal fears and feelings of unease turn into an anxiety disorder when they begin to interfere with a child’s ability to handle everyday situations.

When worries cannot be controlled, (and there may not be one obvious causing factor) or become more frequent, then anxiety can start to have debilitating effects on a child’s life. For some children their anxiety becomes so bad that they avoid social occasions or even have to leave school. Not only does this have a negative effect on their learning, but also on their social and communication skills, confidence, self-esteem and friendships.

How do I know if my child is anxious?

Sometimes it’s very difficult to tell if a child is anxious or simply misbehaving; however, if you notice a pattern of these types of behaviours it may be a sign that your child is struggling with anxiety:

What can I do to help my child?

“Pull yourself together!” type platitudes are not going to help an anxious child. Anxiety isn’t something that will just go away by itself – indeed, if it’s ignored it will often get worse. So, what can you do to help?

For more information about the MSTC please email or call for a chat 01206 911974.

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