Most children get anxious at times, this is a normal part of their development as they grow up, each child has different levels of stress they can cope with. Some people are just naturally more anxious than others and are quicker to become stressed or worried.
In ELSA we understand the importance of talking about the child’s worries and the need for this to be done in a safe environment with a member of staff they trust.
We often use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) this helps children to understand their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and supports them to think about things differently. CBT has been proven to help with mild to moderate anxiety and is quite commonly offered to young people who are anxious.
They may also learn some techniques to help them relax.
Advice from Young Minds website for anxiety – support for parents
- Encourage the child to notice what things make them anxious. Talking it through can help but the child can also keep a diary or a ‘worry book’ if they are old enough to do this.
- Use a ‘worry box’ where the child can write the worry down and post it into a tissue box so it is contained. (Some children will enjoy decorating the box, too). They can post their worries every day if it helps, or leave the worries in there and take them out after a week to see if they were worth worrying about (if not they can be torn up).
- Alternatively, designate a specific ‘Worry time’ for around 10 or 20 minutes in the evening (but not when the child is in bed), so worries can be saved up for that time. This will give the message that the worries are not dangerous and can be contained.
- You can try to help your child put their worries into perspective by re-labelling them according to who needs to worry about them. For example worries about finances might be re-labelled as the parents' business.
- Help the child to measure how anxious they are on a scale of 1-10 and notice this at different times, to see how it gets better or worse
- Notice what things help them relax or feel better and work with your child to find strategies when they are anxious, they will often know best what works for them.
- Show them how to think positively. Name their ‘worst case scenarios’ and think with them how to sort out the situation if it happens - ‘I’m worried that we’ll miss the bus’ ‘What do you think we could do if that happens?’ ‘We could get the next bus’
- Encourage them to do some regular exercise, as it can reduce the levels of stress hormones
- Learn relaxation techniques
- Encourage good sleeping habits – calm bedtime routines, and not too much screen or computer time in the evening
- Try and help your child to have a healthy diet and not eat too much sugar or additives or drink caffeinated drinks
- Encourage them to some art, writing or listen to music regularly