Children and Increasing Anxiety - Subtly Anxious

Children and Increasing Anxiety

Over the past few years, an increase in anxiety levels amongst children and young people all over the world. This increase has been linked to various factors – from adjustments in lifestyle including COVID lockdowns to shifts in societal norms. Understanding the reasons behind the increase, mitigating anxiety, and developing healthy communication practices is so important to ensure the emotional wellbeing of our children.

So Why Have Anxiety Levels in Children and young people increased?

There are many contributing factors to the increase in anxiety levels amongst children:

1. Digital World Exposure: Children today are growing up with rapid digital advances, and the online world has its fair share of positives and negatives. Whilst exposure to varied information can be empowering and educational, it can also induce fear and anxiety of the unknown or misunderstood.

2. Societal Pressure: Academic pressures, peer relationships, and societal expectations put significant stress on children and young people. Whether it be pressure to succeed in school or the desire to fit in, these issues can frequently result in heightened anxiety.

3. Lifestyle Changes: Children's lifestyles have evolved drastically. There is restricted outdoor play, increased isolation during the COVID lockdowns, and demanding schedules that often leave little time for relaxation and self-reflection.

4. Global Uncertainties: Children are perceptive and pick up on parents' and caregivers' anxieties about world issues like climate change, political situations, or pandemics. These issues can unconsciously trickle down and contribute to a child's anxiety.


Ways to Reduce Anxiety in Children

There are several strategies parents and carers can deploy to help reduce anxiety levels in children:

1. Establish a Routine: Consistent routines are comforting to children and provide a sense of control, thereby reducing anxiety.

2. Assure and Comfort: Regularly reassure children that it's normal to feel anxious sometimes, and they're not alone. Emotional comfort is the key to bolstering their confidence.

3. Encourage Healthy Habits: Balanced diets, regular physical exercise, and adequate sleep can have a profound impact on children's mental health and reduce anxiety levels.

4. Promote Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Mindfulness activities such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help children manage their anxiety and reduce anxious behaviours. This could including grounding exercises and using fidget toys and fidget rings.

5. Seek Professional Help: If a child's anxiety continues to escalate despite attempts to alleviate it, don't hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals. Counseling or specific therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can significantly help an anxious child.


Talking to Children about Anxiety and Delivering Bad News

Discussing anxiety and bad news with children can be challenging but is essential to their emotional development.

1. Use Simple, Honest Language: Discuss things in an age-appropriate, honest manner without overwhelming them with information.

2. Be Reassuring: Emphasise that all feelings, including worry and fear, are normal. Ensure them that it's okay to feel anxious and that support is available.

3. Encourage Expressive Outlets: Advocate for them to express their feelings through activities they enjoy, like drawing, writing, playing music or dancing.

4. Delivering Bad News: When it is unavoidable to deliver bad news, do so in a nurturing and supportive environment. Balance the reality of the situation with reassurances of safety, love, and support.

Anxiety in children is a vital concern that necessitates understanding and action from parents, caregivers, educators, and society at large. Providing children with the necessary tools to manage and express their emotions, coupled with an environment of understanding and care, can help relieve their anxieties. No child should have to navigate their anxiety alone. Forward this article on to someone who may find this information useful.


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