While spring is often a time we associate with feeling happier and energised thanks to the extra daylight, sunshine and flowers blooming, for children and young adults in education, spring can be a stressful time of year.
Mocks, exams, coursework and assessments typically take place at this time of year, with 66% of children and young adults feeling stressed about exams and homework.
However, it is not just school that kids are worried about; 21% of kids report feeling stressed about money, and 39% worry about what people think of them.
For parents, it can be hard to see their child struggling with worries and anxiety, but what can you do, and when is it the right time to seek help?
Is My Child Worrying, Or Do They Have Anxiety?
People often use terms such as anxiety, worry and stress interchangeably, but they are different.
What Is Worry?
Worry is usually a short-term concern. For example, a child can feel worried at the start of a school day or about an exam.
However, usually, they will be able to calm down, feel better, or use their problem-solving skills to help manage the worry.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety can come from worrying, but the worries feel overwhelming and unmanageable. As a result, a child may think that they cannot cope with their everyday life.
For example, if they’re worrying about an exam, they may feel unable to go to school, or the anxiety will get in the way, for example, missing the school bus.
When anxiety becomes a bigger problem, you may notice things such as:
- A lack of confidence in their abilities
- Unwillingness to try new things
- Struggling with eating and sleeping
- Repeated negative thoughts
- Avoiding things they previously enjoyed.
How To Help Your Child Manage Worries
- Ask how they feel and what’s on their mind
- Listen patiently, without interrupting for advice
- Validate how they feel and empathise
- Explore ways to see the situation differently
- Help them to problem solve.
If your child continues to struggle with worries, coaching could help to understand where their worries come from and create techniques that can help build resilience and manage worries whenever they arise.
If you want to find out more about whether coaching is right for your child, book your free coaching consultation here.
How To Help Your Child With Anxiety
In an anxious moment, you may need to provide immediate support, which could be:
- Sitting with them and both following breathing exercises, such as slowly breathing in for four counts and exhaling for four counts
- Ask them to tell you about their relaxing place
- Help them to feel grounded using their senses. Can they name,
- Five things they can see
- Four things to touch
- Three things they can hear
- Two things to smell
- One thing they can taste?
While these steps can help in the moment, if the anxiety becomes more challenging to manage and impacts daily life, then it’s wise to seek help.
The first step is to speak to your child’s GP. From this, the GP may recommend a variety of routes, such as a referral for mental health assessment, counselling or coaching.
For children and teens, there are lots of different ways to manage anxiety, and each child will find different ways to manage their worries, but it may take time and trying different approaches to find the best ways to control their worries and calm anxious thoughts.
Be patient. Don’t give up. Ask for help.