During the pandemic, many families are grappling with fear covid, employment and lock-downs – experiencing disruptions in things like school, childcare, social support services and loved activities. It has been stressful for some, painful for others.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that many children have been affected by anxiety during the pandemic, especially during the lockdown.
Our research shows that some families were particularly vulnerable. Those who experienced financial stress, poor quality housing, loneliness, pre-existing mental health problems and couple conflict reported worse child and parenting mental health for a longer period of time.
Families and children struggling during the pandemic may need extra support to get back to “Covid-normal” lives.
So what are the symptoms of anxiety to watch for in a child, and how can you best support a child who is experiencing anxiety?
How to recognize child anxiety
Indications vary from child to child and by age, but may include: Avoidance of situations or activities that could have been achieved previously (for example, going to a once-loved dance or sporting activity) denial) changes in emotion regulation (for example, increased anger or irritability) regressions such as wetness, nail biting, and/or clingy behavior physical symptoms such as headache, abdominal pain, and/or fatigue in everyday life, such as poor concentration, sleep, and/or appetite.
Clinically, we would consider:
the frequency of each behavior (how often you notice it)
severity (how disruptive or impactful it has been), and
How long have you noticed the symptoms?
Many young people’s days worry about change or change, such as starting a new school. But few people will experience anxieties for more than two weeks in a row.
child anxiety treatment
Initiate a conversation: Parents may fear that talking about their child’s feelings will make the situation worse, but this is rarely the case. Talking about feelings usually helps kids let go of them. talking helps too Children Control their emotions.
If your child is struggling and you are concerned that they may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it is worth talking to a professional to get them help quickly.
There are three routes into Australia.
First, you can talk to your GP to organize a referral for your child to see a private psychologist. Your GP can prescribe a mental health care plan for your child, which offers ten relaxation sessions per year. In other words, a portion of the psychological fee will be covered by Medicare.
Second, you can talk to your child’s elementary education or school teacher to get assessment and support.
Third, when symptoms are severe, you can contact your local child and teen Mental health service for advice and possibly treatment. (Click on the name of your state or territory to find out what’s available in your region: Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory).
The pandemic has strained health services, and there are often long waiting-lists to see psychologists and other specialists.
While you’re waiting, we recommend that you take a look at evidence-based online support, and make sure the basics are in place for symptom relief.
Online support for children can be found at:
Brave (8-17 year olds experiencing anxiety)
Youth MoodGym (an interactive self-help book for preventing and managing symptoms of depression and anxiety)
Bite Back (a program to enhance well-being and prevent depression) anxiety for teens 13-16 years of age).
Online support for parents can be found at:
Tuning for Kids (parenting program focused on the emotional connection between parents/carers and their children, from toddlers to teens)
Partners in Parenting (a program designed to help raise your teen by age 12-17 to prevent depression and anxiety)
Circle of Security Parenting (a program to improve children’s development by strengthening parental attachment0-12 years old)
Triple P – Positive Parenting Program (program to educate parents to prevent and treat behavioral and emotional problems).
Basic Symptom Relief for Anxiety
There are many things you can try to relieve your child’s anxiety.
1. Make sure they are getting enough sleep and doing daily physical activity
Guidelines suggest that children ages 5-17 need nine to 11 hours of sleep and at least one hour of exercise per day.
2. Make Sure They’re Eating Well
Research shows links between certain foods and mental health, so make sure your child has a variety. fresh vegetablesFruits, legumes, and protein every day.
3. Help your child connect with friends
Social interactions are important for healthy child development, improving well-being, and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s important to help your child stay connected and connected with peers.
4. Slow, Gradual Return to Situations That Fear Your Child
The lockdown has made it difficult for some children to return to busy, bustling and potentially overwhelming environments such as school or stimulating environments. Extracurricular activities, If a child is struggling, it helps to plan for gradual withdrawal at a slow, controlled rate.
Parents and caregivers are important people in children’s lives, even when children become teenagers. Being available to listen without judgment (and without trying to problem-solve) can help your child process their feelings, and build confidence in their ability to cope.
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