In September 2021, UK’s National Health Service (NHS) reported that 1 in 6 children had a mental health disorder. Although the figures were similar in 2020, it also said that cases of childhood anxiety had risen significantly over the past few years.
Adults and children alike have felt adverse effects in their own lives since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. General fears of the virus continue to run rife among all ages, and life is still yet to resume what once was “normal.”
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The past two years have been challenging to comprehend for us adults, so imagine just how strange and confusing the world must feel for a child right now.
In December 2021, it was reported in healthychildren.org that “more than 140,000 children in the United States have experienced the death of a parent or grandparent from COVID.”
Childhood anxiety in an uncertain world
Fears regarding safety in an uncertain world appear to trigger anxiety among children further. So parents are urged to look out for the warning signs of childhood anxiety, including withdrawal, inconsistent follow-through, and mood swings.
In April 2021, Very Well Mind published an article Anxiety Symptoms In Children, which reported that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 7.1 percent of children aged 3-17 suffer from childhood anxiety.
“The frequency and appearance of symptoms such as stomachaches, insomnia, and restlessness, to name a few, can vary depending on the nature of the anxiety,” reported Very Well Mind.
General fears and worries among children are usual. For example, many children experience “separation anxiety” from time to time, but most tend to grow out of it. Meeting new people can also worry children, but with constructive guidance from their loved ones, over time, their confidence can improve when around different people.
Children can find it generally tricky speaking through their emotions, as they tend not to understand why they feel the way they do, be it positive or negative.
How to help with childhood anxiety
As a parent who has a child with an anxiety disorder, the following are steps that can be taken to assist your child:
- Offer comfort — be their listener when they need somebody to hear them and advise them, while being mindful not to enable their thoughts when irrational.
- Don’t avoid what your child fears — this will only enable their worries and cause further issues down the line for them.
- Teach your child to tolerate their fears — by not avoiding anxious thoughts, but by rationalizing scenarios in which you show your child that worrying (to a degree) is a normal emotion to feel while still living a fulfilled life.
In January 2022, The Guardian reported that among 8,000 children asked about their top word choice for 2021, a majority said “anxiety.”
Flooding the mainstream news platforms are figures based on coronavirus. As a mother myself, I urge that more is reported on the pandemic of the dwindling mental health among our children of the next generation.