A guide for parents and carers

White curve
Practical ideas for your child

Help them spot the signs of anxiety

Helping your child recognise physical cues can be useful for identifying when anxiety levels may be rising and you may need some coping strategies. At a calm moment ask them what it feels like for them.

For young children you could use a teddy or ask them to draw how they are feeling, for older ones you could ask them to write about their feelings. This may be particularly helpful for those who are not sure what they are feeling or find it hard to describe.

Give reassurance carefully

Anxious children and young people are likely to seek a great deal of reassurance. It may sound strange, but we can sometimes over-reassure our children. This can mean they come to rely on that reassurance to feel better rather than learning to master their own fears and worries.

Instead, look to reassure them that you are there for them and at the same time you believe they are able to manage their emotions themselves rather than always relying on you.

Show you are confident they can cope: “I think you know the answer to this”; “I believe you can do it.”

Notice and validate when they overcome a fear themselves, or with your support. “It was great that you were able to calm your anxiety using that breathing technique" or “Going for a walk with a friend really seems to help when you are getting anxious.

Share a quiet space

Sometimes just being in a quiet, shared space with your anxious child can be the best approach. If your child doesn’t want to talk about what’s creating the anxiety, just sitting with them, saying very little, can be the best thing to do.

Plan ahead

When we know something is approaching which might cause us to feel anxious, we can plan for it, break it down into smaller steps, and prepare to manage it better. This is useful for both young people and adults.

Reinforce positive behaviour

When your child does overcome a fear, ask what helped them to do it; this can reinforce their positive behaviour. Asking ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions helps this, while avoiding questions that be answered with a simple yes or no.

Validate their emotions

Even when we don’t understand our child’s behaviour or emotional response, it’s important to acknowledge how they are feeling, as that is their reality: “I can understand why you might be feeling worried. When I feel like that I try to…”.

 

Practical ideas

 

Resources

Resource

An emotionally healthy approach to GCSEs - A guide for teachers

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

View resource
Resource

Looking after yourself during your GCSEs - A guide for pupils

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

View resource
Resource

Low mood poster

Poster created in partnership with Bank Workers Charity highlighting common causes of low mood, how to help yourself feel better and information on where to get more help.

View resource
Resource

Supporting a child with anxiety

A guide for parents and carers to help understand anxiety more clearly and begin to address it.

View resource
Resource

Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

View resource
Resource

Wellbeing Action Plan (child)

A simple, resource to help young people keep themselves well and get them through difficult times

View resource

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