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West Sussex County Council and Learning and Behaviour Advisory Team have produced the following information on how to support children suffering from anxiety with advice from the NHS. 

If a child is experiencing anxiety, there is plenty parents and carers can do to help.

First and foremost, it’s important to talk to the child about their anxiety or worries. Reassure them and show them you understand how they feel. If the child is old enough, it may help to explain what anxiety is and the physical effects it has on our bodies. It may be helpful to describe anxiety as being like a wave that builds up and then ebbs away again.

As well as talking to the child about their worries and anxieties, it’s important to help them find solutions, says Professor Stallard. “No one likes to see their child anxious and the tendency is to say, if you’re worried about that sleepover, don’t go. But what you’re doing is saying, if you get anxious about something, it means you can’t do it.

“It’s more helpful to say,’ I hear that you’re worried about this. What can you do that’s going to help?’,” says Professor Stallard. “Focus on exploring solutions with your child, instead of just rehearsing their worries and talking about all the things that could go wrong. Acknowledge your child’s worries, but then help them plan ways to cope with them.”

With younger children you can work together to develop these skills and strategies. “For example, you could say, ‘I’ll take you to the party, knock on the door and talk to the mum or dad, then you can give your friend their present’,” says Professor Stallard. “But as children get older they have to learn these skills and strategies themselves. People can’t be there to sort them out all the time.”

Other ways to ease anxiety in children

  • Teach the child to recognise signs of anxiety in themselves and to ask for help when it strikes.
  • Children of all ages find regular routines reassuring so, if the child is feeling anxious, try to stick to regular daily routines where possible.
  • If the child is anxious because of distressing events, such as a bereavement or separation, see if you can find books or films that will help them understand their feelings.
  • If you know a change, such as a house move is coming up, prepare the child by talking to them about what is going to happen and why.
  • Try not to become anxious yourself or overprotective – rather than doing things for your child or helping them to avoid anxiety provoking situations, encourage the child to find ways to manage them.
  • Practice simple relaxation techniques with the child, such as taking three deep, slow breaths, breathing in for a count of three and out for three. You’ll find more relaxation techniques for children on the Moodcafe website.
  • Distraction can be helpful for young children. For example, if they are anxious about going to nursery, play games on the way there, such as seeing who can spot the most red cars. “This is a way of focusing attention away from internal anxiety cues and worries to external, more neutral anxiety-reducing things,” says Professor Stallard.

Turn an old tissue box into a ‘worry’ box. Get your child to write down or draw their worries and post them into the box. Then you can sort through the box together at the end of the day or week.  


Useful websites: 

 Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps for children with Anxiety

Many people find mindfullness a useful tol in managing stress and anxiety.  A collection of useful Mindfulness Apps can be found below:-  

Breathe, Think, Do Sesame: Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is intended for parents and caregivers to use with their young children (ages 2-5) to help teach skills such as problem-solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence.

Calm: Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users. Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes so you can choose the perfect length to fit with your schedule.

DreamyKid: The DreamyKid meditation app offers meditation, guided visualization and affirmations curated just for children & teens. It uses proven techniques that teach your kids methods to guide them towards a happier life through mindfulness.

Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness: Meditation made simple. Guided meditations suitable for all levels from Headspace. Meditation can help improve your focus, exercise mindful awareness, relieve anxiety and reduce stress.

Kids Yoga Deck: Children will love to move their bodies as they flip through their very own yoga deck. With clear pictures and step-by-step instructions, these yoga poses are fun, child-friendly, and great for everybody!

Stop, Breathe, and Think Kids: As parents, we want to raise our kids to be able to handle whatever comes their way. Whether they need to mellow out before bed, develop positive relationships or simply have a peaceful moment, Stop, Breathe & Think Kids offers children a fun and easy way to identify and process their emotions. From counting breaths to friendly wishes or frog jumps, each activity brings fun rewards to keep them engaged.

Breathing Bubbles: Breathing Bubbles is an app that helps kids practice releasing worries and focusing on good feelings by allowing kids to select the emotion they are feeling and how strongly they are feeling it. Kids can choose to handle their emotion by releasing a worry or receiving a joy as Manny the Manatee walks them through deep breathing and visualization.

Smiling Mind: Smiling Mind is designed to help people pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life. This app has a fantastic section on Mindfulness in the Classroom and is suited for kids ages 7-18.

Positive Penguins: The four positive penguins take you on an interactive journey to help you understand that feelings arise from your thinking and if you challenge your negative thoughts successfully you may be able to see things in a more realistic and even optimistic way.

Calm Counter: Calm Counter is a visual and audio tool to help people calm down when they are angry or anxious. The app includes a social story about anger, and audio/visual tools for calming down.

Emotionary: Emotionary guides users through five primary emotions to find the right category of feeling, with all definitions pared back to the essentials and displayed so they can be easily compared.

Take a Chill: This app is full of tools to help manage that stress, and bring mindful practices into a daily routine. Using quick mindful exercises and thoughtful activities begin to overcome those moments whether it’s studying for a test or preventing negative thoughts and patterns.

Chill Outz: Chill Outz® is a collection of fun animated stories teaching children proven techniques to stay mindful & relaxed anywhere, anytime.

Super Stretch Yoga: Super Stretch is an educational yoga tool to use and teach the fun of physical activity and breathing to children. They will use the skills of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-regulation that they learn from this app as a foundation for the rest of their lives.

Relax Melodies Mix and listen to over 52 different relaxing sounds with background sound support — this app can be used while using other apps!