Anxiety is a response to a perceived threat or can result from overwhelm. Often when we are faced with something we see as threatening, we will respond with a fight, flight, or freeze response. Anxiety can be helpful at times and is a normal part of development. Many children are more likely to demonstrate psycho-somatic symptoms of anxiety, rather than express their fear with words. This may look like school avoidance, complaints of sore tummies, increased heart rate, headaches, increased clinginess or becoming more dysregulated than what is usual for them.
While this time of year can cause increased feelings of stress and anxiety it is important that children feel supported with these big feelings by their parents and caretakers and that with your help, they can learn to regulate their feelings.
During this end of year period there are some things families can do to minimise stress:
Reflect on your child’s needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that our needs down lower down the hierarchy need to be fulfilled in order for us to attend to our needs higher up the pyramid. This may be a good time to consider if your child’s lower level needs are all being met including:
- Sleep- are they still getting enough sleep each night? Government recommendations are for 10-13 hours for 3-5 year olds, 9-11 hours for 6- to 12-year-olds and 8-10 hours for 13- to 18-year-olds
- Food and Nutrition– has there been any changes to their usual diet?
- Stability- Stick to schedule. End of year may mean that some schedules fade away, however sticking to routine can help create a sense of calm and familiarity and can help your child to relax and feel confident about what’s happening.
Higher up on the pyramid are loving and belonging needs. It may be timely to consider:
- Relationships– how are they tracking with friends and family? Have there been any changes to important relationships? It may be helpful to make time to talk to your child about their feelings. By starting a conversation about worries and stress this can help normalise your child’s feelings and let them know they aren’t “bad” emotions and that everyone experiences them.
Another way to support mental wellbeing is staying active. With the weather heating up it is time to make the most of it. Keeping our minds and body busy can help with worries.
Planning ahead for school holidays. Not knowing what is coming up can be a major cause for stress. Providing your child with a plan for what they will be doing in the holidays can let them know what to expect and alleviate some stress. Involving your child in creating this summer holidays plan can help them to feel comfortable and have a sense of control over their routine. Having a summer holiday plan is also a great way of helping your child stay motivated over the last few weeks of term when fatigue begins to set in.
Professional Support at Beam Health
If you believe your child’s worries and anxiety are starting to impact on the things that your child usually enjoys or their quality of life and you are looking for support, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us to see how our Psychologists or Mental Health Practitioners can support you and your child. Our clinics are located in Toowong QLD, and Warners Bay, Cessnock, Tuggerah and Gosford NSW.