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Created in 2018 to raise awareness of – and improve guidance around – stress prevention, this week marks International Stress Awareness week: an event the whole world needs, perhaps more than ever, after the turmoil of 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic.
Most worryingly, the number of children with anxiety is on the increase – though this is perhaps no surprise. After months spent experiencing the effects of the coronavirus crisis on a personal level – coupled with seeing frightening images and reports on the news – as well as periods of prolonged physical separation from teachers, classmates, friends and family, the current climate must feel both terrifying and uncertain. Some concern, therefore, is normal: but when this becomes a hindrance to day-to-day life, it’s time to take action to protect the emotional wellbeing and mental health of our children.
As mentioned above, these are extraordinary times: as such, it’s natural for children to display some signs of worry. It’s the difference between mild – fleeting – and severe, ongoing anxiety that parents need to look out for – and it can be difficult to decide when it’s time to take action.
Every child is different; but, from our point of view, if a child is displaying signs of anxiety that prohibit them from continuing with their day to day life – the development of phobias that mean they don’t want to take part in certain activities, for example, or exam stress that becomes so severe that they can’t face going to the examination venue – it’s important to acknowledge this. Not only can anxiety like this affect their academic performance in the short term, but also it can impact their mental and emotional wellbeing, confidence, their willingness to try new things, and their ability to gain pleasure from things they used to enjoy.
Oftentimes, anxiety is easier to spot in younger children (though no less worrying), even though they may not always be able to express how they’re feeling. Key symptoms include:
With older children, you may notice that they:
It can be worrying – even daunting – to accept that your child might suffer from anxiety; and more concerning still to try to put together an action plan for supporting and guiding them through it. There are lots of things you can try, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy. However, the ideas detailed below provide a good starting point:
Find out how Mentor can help you support you and your child as you approach the 7+. Get in touch today.