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Spotting the signs of anxiety in young children

Spotting the signs of anxiety in young children

Children are going through a pretty rough time at the moment, they can’t see their friends, go to their favourite club or hug their grandparents. Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life but it’s important to spot the signs before things get worse.

If you’re feeling worried and anxious about life returning to normal, think about how your children are feeling, they don’t understand what’s going on! One day they were going to school and playing with their friends, then they were told they had to stay inside, this is bound to make children feel at fault. Now that we’re finally coming out of lockdown, children are feeling worried and anxious about going back to school and back to their usual hobbies.

What are the signs to look out for?

  • Trouble sleeping or waking up after having bad dreams
  • Refusing to eat
  • Becoming easily angry or irritable
  • Complaining of stomach aches or feeling unwell
  • Negative thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating

Childline saw a 37 per cent rise in the number of calls they received from children aged 11 and under contacting them about mental and emotional health issues during lockdown restrictions. There has been a 156 per cent rise in the number of children who report to be “worried about the world”.

In a poll of over 1,000 British parents, conducted by YouGov for Barnardo’s, 30 per cent report their children are often frustrated, with more than 28 per cent saying they get angry more easily and more than one-in-five saying they are sleeping less at times since lockdown began in March. Find the full article on Barnardo’s website.

These are heart-breaking statistics, especially for parents who would do anything to protect the health of their children.

How can you help your child?


Sit down with your child and ask them how they’re feeling and address the things that are worrying them. Try to give them the reassurance they’re looking for and answer any questions they have. If the questions are about illness, don’t go into too much detail but be honest and always provide a solution.

Seek the information yourself

If you can’t find the answers, don’t be afraid to seek help from health and wellbeing services. Here at General and Medical, we offer free health and wellbeing support included in all our Private Health Insurance policies. This complimentary service is free for your whole family to access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You’ll be able to access confidential telephone counselling services, lifestyle programmes and find the information you need about various medical conditions.

Help them to embrace their anxiety

It’s important to tell your child that everyone feels anxious from time to time, this will help them realise that they’re normal. Reassure your child, let them know that they will be okay and try to come up with some effective solutions to relieve the anxiety, for example, breathing techniques.

Encourage positive thinking

When we’re upset or worried about something it can be hard to focus on the positives, this can be especially difficult for children, but you can help by encouraging positive thinking and addressing the worst-case scenario but suggesting the next best thing.

Coping with back to school anxiety

It’s natural for children to feel wobbly before starting a new term or starting school for the first time. But back to school this year could make it all even more unsettling for them and you as a parent. But the good news is, there are things you can do to help your child settle into the start of term.

Have a walk-through of the day

Although we’re not entirely sure how the first day back will look in COVID times, it might help your child feel a bit more settled on their first day back if you have a little walk-through beforehand. If they have an idea of where to go and how the day is made up, it will give them confidence knowing what comes next.

Arrange an end of the day treat

Whether it’s their favourite dinner, speaking to a friend or playing a game, celebrate the end of the day and give your children something to look forward to. This will give them the opportunity to talk about their day and make them feel excited about the week ahead.

Remind them of health measures

The best way to protect yourself and your children from illness is by regularly washing your hands for 20 minutes with soap and warm water, especially after visiting the toilet and before eating food. Always pack your child some tissue for those runny noses, coughs and sneezes and remind them to keep a distance between themselves and other pupils.

The worst feeling in the world to parent is knowing their children are sick. You feel that sense of urgency to get help for them. It’s not always easy to fit in a doctor’s appointment around your day, but there are helplines out there including 111.

With Private Health Insurance you can get quick access to consultations, diagnostics and treatments. Our Lifestyle range is specially designed with family in mind and includes access to the 24-Hour GP Advice Line where you can speak to a doctor or GP over the phone or by video consultation if you wish to seek a second opinion.


Effective activities to help relieve anxiety

  1. Dance around the living room, run on the spot or go for a walk – relieve some of your child’s worry energy and help boost their mood.
  2. Read a book together – take a moment to sit and rest by reading a book or get your child to read to you, this will give them a welcome distraction from their anxiety and help soothe their worries.
  3. Allow them to cry – crying is a natural response to negative emotions and pain. It’s the body’s way of relieving stress.
  4. Play a silly game that will get you both laughing, once you start you won’t be able to stop – laughter is the best medicine.

Kids Go Free

We understand how important family is and that’s why we have our Kids Go Free benefit. After you have purchased a private healthcare policy for yourself and your first child then the rest go free! Click the link to get your online quote today.

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