Family Support and Guidance
Support with Home Education
Mental Health and Wellbeing
- What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that is experienced as a combination of physical sensations, thoughts and feelings.
All children and young people feel worried sometimes, and this is a normal part of growing up. At certain points, such as on their first day of school or before an exam, young people may become more worried, but will soon be able to calm down and feel better.
Anxiety can become a problem when a young person feels stuck in it, or when it feels like an overwhelming, distressing or unmanageable experience. If this kind of worrying goes on for a long time, it can leave a young person feeling exhausted and isolated, and limit the things they feel able to do.
If your child is struggling with anxiety, there are things you can do to help them – including providing emotional support, working on practical strategies together and finding the right professional help if they need it.
- What makes people anxious?
A young person may feel anxious for a number of different reasons, depending on the individual. If your child is feeling unmanageable amounts of worry and fear, this is often a sign that something in their life isn’t right and they need support to work out what the problem is.
The following kinds of things can make some children and young people feel more anxious:
- experiencing lots of change in a short space of time, such as moving house or school
- having responsibilities that are beyond their age and development, for example caring for other people in their family
- being around someone who is very anxious, such as a parent
- struggling at school, including feeling overwhelmed by work, exams or peer groups
- experiencing family stress around things like housing, money and debt
- going through distressing or traumatic experiences in which they do not feel safe, such as being bullied or witnessing or experiencing abuse.
- Symptoms of anxiety
- How to help your child in an anxious moment
When your child is in the middle of a very anxious moment, they may feel frightened, agitated or worried about having a panic attack. The important thing to do in the moment is to help them calm down and feel safe.
- Breathe slowly and deeply together
- Reassure them that anxiety will pass and that they will be okay.
- Sit with them and offer calm physical reassurance.
- Try using all five senses together
- Ask them to think of a safe and relaxing place or person in their mind.
Fears are a normal part of childhood — and so is learning to manage them. Sometimes kids are afraid of imaginary things, like monsters. But often, fears relate to what’s going on in their lives. With the COVID pandemic, for example, children might worry about their parents getting sick.
The following information could help if your child has lost or is about to lose someone, such as a family member or friend.
Stress is caused when things in life get too much. You might feel pressure about a school exam or a race you have to run in. If you can learn to cope with these pressures, you can ease the stress you feel too.
Learning to deal with stress can take a lot of practise but it will worth it in the long-run. Here are some tips to help you out when stress is getting the better of you.
- Recognise triggers: begin to track times where you have felt stressed and look for patterns in how you reacted. What was happening when you felt stressed? What did you think/feel/do just before you felt stressed?
- Awareness: once you are aware of difficulties that are likely to make you feel stressed you can take steps to prevent stress or deal with it quickly
- Self-care: be kind to yourself – stress is a human experience. Try to connect with friends and talk about how you are feeling
- Exercise, relaxation and meditation: some people find that exercises and activities such as meditation, breathing exercises and deep muscle relaxation are helpful
- Eat well and sleep: the better rested you are, the more able you are to cope with pressure
- Talking therapy: if you are finding it difficult to cope, consider meeting with someone trained to help – this might include your GP or talking therapy.
You might like to check out this stress guide, written by young people, to help others through stressful situations.
Quality sleep is essential for children’s growth and development. A decent night’s sleep will help them to do better at school, allow them to react more quickly to situations, have a more developed memory, learn more effectively and solve problems, plus it will make them less susceptible to colds and other minor ailments, less irritable and better behaved!
Dealing with change
Going through change can be scary or challenging for children. These 10 top tips aimed at parents can provide a starting point for helping children struggling with a change in their life.
You might feel excited about the move, maybe a better house or area, but do your children feel the same? Children aren’t as used to change as adults and this could be a huge step for them. They may feel worried about leaving their friends behind and having to start again or being the new person at school. Here are some tips from parents who have moved h ouse themselves…
Top Tips – How to cope with moving house | Family Lives
Whether a child may make a transition because the family has moved to a different area, they are likely to need extra support from parents and other family members first. How a child copes with change can very much depend on the kind of support they receive.
Transitions to high school
Transitioning to secondary or high school can feel like a huge leap for children and their families.
Parent support – Supporting-children-through-secondary-transition-v2 (annafreud.org)
Year 6 Resource – fyf-teacher-resource-year-6.pdf (youngminds.org.uk)
Finding your feet – pupil-resource.pdf (youngminds.org.uk)
To support children during a separation and help them with their worries, you should:
- Remind them that they’re loved by both parents.
- Be honest when talking about it but keep in mind the child’s age and understanding.
- Avoid blame and don’t share any negative feelings the adults have about each other.
Keeping Children Safe
Talk PANTS helps children understand that their body belongs to them, and they should tell someone they trust if anything makes them feel upset or worried.
Being online is an integral part of children and young people’s lives. Social media, online games, websites and apps can be accessed through mobile phones, computers, laptops and tablets – all of which form a part of children and young people’s online world.
The internet and online technology provides new opportunities for young people’s learning and growth, but it can also expose them to new types of risks.
E-safety should form a fundamental part of schools’ and colleges’ safeguarding and child protection measures.
Government guidance for schools across the UK highlights the importance of safeguarding children and young online.