The number of children in Australia who suffer from mental health issues is on the rise. So what can you do to help if you notice your child displaying signs of anxiety or depression?
Firstly, it’s helpful to acknowledge that it can be really challenging to identify if and when someone needs help. While anxiety can be a natural part of life, it’s important to recognise when it is manifesting into a state of excessive worry, agitation or unhappiness. Be on the lookout for symptoms such as an inability to relax (which often presents as uneasiness or irritability), an irrational sense of impending doom or ongoing sense of worry, as well as sudden unprovoked outbursts of panic. Other symptoms can include difficulty sleeping and being unable to concentrate.
So if you’re concerned about these things in your child, what should you do next?
In many cases, talking to a professional can be a great way to feel supported in making decisions about how to proceed. Connecting with a professional can give you an opportunity to discuss the symptoms you’re noticing in your child and get advice on age-appropriate ways to approach them. Places such as Perth’s Brain Wellness Spa can offer you all-natural solutions to solving mental health problems, and can help you feel supported in your role as carer. Anxiety is often complex, and professional help can be an important component in recovery.
In the meantime, you could consider these four pointers in talking to your child about some of the smaller scale daily worries they encounter…
- Foster open conversations:
Simply letting them know that you care can be an important first step. If you find it challenging to start a conversation around anxiety, you could start by sharing with your child some of the things that worried you when you were their age. You could tell them about it, and use it to lead into a discussion about whether they are experiencing similar worries.
- Talk to them about how anxiety works, and give them some useful tools to combat it:
This involves helping your child to identify when they’re feeling anxious, and empowering them with things they can try in order to feel better. A good example is this breathing technique, often used to help interrupt escalating feelings of anxiety:
- Close your eyes and breathe in, while slowly counting to four.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
- Slowly release the breath, again to the count of four.
- Repeat this as many times as you need.
While this is a very simple technique, it can be a good thing to practice together until your child feels comfortable doing it by themselves.
- Help them to understand that failure is okay too:
Seeing your child move outside of their comfort zone can be challenging. It can present an opportunity though to discuss the benefits of having new experiences, and of failure being a natural part of life as we (particularly as young people) try new things to find what we enjoy and what we’re good at.
- Help them with practical support:
In some cases, you can provide a comfortable and safe environment for your child to practice the thing that is concerning them. If they experience anxiety around something like public speaking or taking a test, you might be able to help them practice these experiences andwork throughways to regain composure instead of feeling overwhelmed with anxiety.This won’t be suitable in all cases, but is helpful to consider.
In many cases, anxiety is complex and requires professional input to ensure that your childhas the support that they need.For more help find anxiety treatment services in your local area and get professional support to treat your anxiety.