Top Tips for your Child’s Mental Health and Wellbeing – Anxiety

Top Tips for your Child’s Mental Health and Wellbeing: Anxiety

It is normal for your child to feel stressed, worried and even anxious in a variety of situations—and particularly when they are faced with unfamiliar, non-preferred or pressured tasks and situations. These are very normal and necessary human emotions that help us to identify and respond to danger by initiating our ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ or ‘freeze’ responses. It is understandable that your child feels scared and nervous when they have to speak in front of their class, start a new school, see a mouse scurry across the floor, or lose you in a shopping centre. In these stressful situations our brain and body are pumped full of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which help us face up to and deal with difficult and stressful challenges. The ‘right’ amount of anxiety and stress hormones help us perform better, motivate us to act, and inspire our creativity.

It is when these normal human emotions become all-consuming that we need to seek more help for ourselves or our child. Panic and anxiety can make any of us feel like we are dying, and if we feel like we are dying it is ok to get help, whether or not that feeling comes from a physiological injury or feeling overwhelming anxiety. Both of those things are real, but often anxiety can look like something else in a child (from https://gozen.com/):


Research shows that nearly 7% of primary school children have an anxiety disorder (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Australia's children—in brief. Cat. no. CWS 72. Canberra: AIHW.), meaning that nearly 1 in 7 primary school-aged children are so anxious that their friendships, learning and family life is impacted. To help your child overcome anxiety, firstly be a detective to identify the cause of your child's behaviour – ask yourself, “Is my child behaving like this because she/he is worried or scared about something?". Then you need to do the opposite of what seems natural:

  • Do not constantly reassure your child that they will be fine.
  • Do not brush off your child's anxiety.
  • Do not avoid things that makes your child feel anxious.

 

Instead:

  • Do validate your worried child's feelings.
  • Do express confidence that your child can manage the anxiety.
  • Do help your child think of ways to handle what might happen.

 

If you continue to be worried about your child's worrying, then talking to your child's GP or Paediatrician and ask about early intervention. Don't forget to speak to your child's teachers and/or school Guidance Counsellor to get their support as well.

Click this link to Beyond Blue to find out more: https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/age-6-12/mental-health-conditions-in-children/anxiety/strategies-to-support-anxious-children