Mental health issues are important considerations that must be taken seriously across the whole of society and our children are no different. And just as with adults there are many reasons for this. It is important as both parents and members of the community, that we are aware of some of the reasons for this anxiety, and that we can help our children get through difficult times.
A lot of mental health problems in adults begin when we are children and so in helping our children to avoid anxiety and other mental health issues, we are setting them up for a happy and productive future.
For most children, anxiety is a result of worry about a specific situation or incident – starting school or a particular school-problem, for example. Often, situations that might seem pretty trivial to us as adults can seem massive for younger children especially. Adults can sometimes unwittingly put pressure on children which can cause them undue anxiety – performing well in a spelling test, getting picked for a sports team, or being left with a new babysitter, for example.
Although it is important to try to protect our children from situations which are not good for them – mentally or physically, it is also important not to wrap them up in cotton wool. Putting children in mildly testing situations whilst making them feel safe and secure is part of helping them to learn how to deal with certain circumstances in a rational way.
For many children, anxiety will usually occur after they have witnessed a traumatising experience. Some things may not seem as traumatic to you, but through the lenses of a child’s eyes, it could be a worrying situation. It might be something as small as a throwaway comment made by a stranger or more serious – like their parents divorcing, or even watching one of them get arrested, for example.
Following the experience, the child will try to make sense of it in their own head, and this can sometimes result in problems with anxiety.
Signs of Anxiety in Children
Signs of anxiety in children aren’t necessarily always the same as they are in adults. Often, they will be reluctant to talk about how they are feeling and so understanding some of the physical signs of anxiety in children can be extremely valuable. Some typical signs that your child could be suffering from anxiety include:
- Difficulty with focus and concentration
- Stomach-ache or headache
- Refusing to go to school
- Trouble sleeping
Our environment has a massive impact on our mood. Children’s furniture specialists, Little Lucy Willow explain that “It has been proven that visual clutter negatively impacts mood in a variety of ways, including increasing stress, anxiety, and depression. Maintaining a clutter-free space is, therefore, crucial to creating a positive and tranquil atmosphere”.
It is important that the home environment is stable and makes the child feel safe and secure, as well as being uncluttered and calm in a physical manner.
Another important factor in helping your children to keep anxiety levels to a minimum is to keep them well. There are several things you should be doing as a parent to help your children with their well-being. These can include:
- You should do what you can to help them to get a good night’s sleep – a good bedtime routine, comfortable circumstances, and strong boundaries for example
- Giving them regular healthy, balanced and nutritious meals including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Helping them to get plenty of exercise and fresh air, for example
- Regularly communicate with your children about how they are feeling about certain aspects of their life – school, upcoming holidays, or certain people in their lives, for example. This can give you a good opportunity to find out of there are any issues that are worrying them, and help you to eradicate them before they grow into a bigger issue. You could build this into your daily bedtime routine
Whether it is in quality communication, decluttering the house, your choice of colour, ensuring that the home environment is calm and secure, helping to ensure that they are sleeping well at night, or giving them nutritional meals, there are many ways that we can help our little ones and reduce their likelihood of anxiety – whatever the cause. It is important that you speak to a doctor if you think that your child is suffering unduly with worry or anxiety.
Helping the next generation to reduce anxiety whilst learning to deal with mildly worrying situations is vital to the future mental health of the world, as well as helping to keep our children happy and healthy right now.
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