Anxiety is a feeling of fear or panic that is stronger than worry and lasts for longer. Feeling generally anxious sometimes is normal. Most people worry about something – money or exams – but once the difficult situation is over, you feel better and calm down. If the problem has gone but the feeling of fear or panic stays or even gets stronger, that’s when anxiety becomes a problem.
With as many as one in six young people experiencing anxiety at some point, it is very common to have anxiety.
• feeling fearful or panicky
• feeling breathless, sweaty, or complaining of ‘butterflies’ or pains in the chest or stomach
• feeling tense, fidgety, using the toilet often.
These symptoms may come and go. Young children can’t tell you that they are anxious. They become irritable, tearful and clingy, have difficulty sleeping, and can wake in the night or have bad dreams. Anxiety can even cause a child to develop a headache, a stomach-ache or to feel sick.
The trouble is everyday worries and fears, which are usually not life-threatening, can trigger the same response so that our bodies respond to protect us as if we were in real danger.
2. Tell your child it will be okay, and the anxiety will pass. It can be helpful to describe the anxiety as a wave to ride or surf that gets smaller after it peaks.
3. Get your child to breathe deeply and slowly, in through their nose for three counts and out through their mouth for three counts.
4. Distract them by focusing on something else.
5. Encourage your child to notice what makes them anxious. Talking it through can help but your child could also try keeping a diary or a ‘worry book’.
6. Work on positive-thinking. Name their worst case scenarios and think through together how to sort out the situation if it happens, e.g. ‘I’m worried that we’ll miss the bus.’ ‘What do you think we could do if that happens?’ ‘We could get the next bus’.
7. Help them maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise to reduce the levels of stress hormones, good sleeping habits, calm bedtime routines, limited screen or computer time in the evening, and a healthy diet.
• Call for free 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri 9:30 – 16:00).
• Available in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Try your school nurse. They hold regular drop-ins at schools and colleges. You can contact them on 0800 0199 951 or
Encourage your child to try an activity. Look at the North Lincs Positive Activities website to see what is happening in your area.
The Mix – website for under 25 year olds Phone 0808 808 4994 (13:00-23:00 daily)
ChildLine – Phone: 0800 1111
No Panic – Youth Helpline for 13 – 20 yr olds: 0330 606 1174 (Mon – Fri 15:00 – 18:00 Charges apply)
In Hand – Free app suggesting activities to help you feel happier and more in control – for moments of anxiety or low mood.
MoodGYM is a free, fun, interactive program to help you when you are feeling low.
Advice if you are upset by the news – If you are upset by the news, it’s important to know that you are not the only one and it’s OK to have those feelings. This website gives you some tips about what to do if you are feeling sad about what you’ve seen, heard or read.