Even very young children can experience anxiety but often can’t explain or rationalise it. Many behaviour problems in young children (and often older children too) can be down to underlying fear, worry or frustration which children find difficult to articulate and might be expressed as tantrums, ‘melt-downs” or behaviour such as biting.
Separation anxiety is completely normal in younger children and shows they have a secure relationship with their parent, but some children will find it harder than others to learn to separate when starting school or nursery. A useful explanation, some top tips and a video can be found here and in this great video on ParentChannel with some interviews with parents and children:
Books and more
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst. A picture book on separation anxiety (or loss) that is excellent for ages 3-7 yrs.
- A Boy and a Bear by Lori Lite. Children’s relaxation book ideal for ages 3-4 yrs , can be used with a small group of children e.g in pre-school or nursery too to try and teach some simple breathing techniques.
- What to do when you don’t want to be apart: A kids’ guide to overcoming separation anxiety by K Lavalee for ages 4+ years.
- Relaxation for young children: ‘Relax like a cat’ Follow this moodcafe link for an illustrated step-by-step relaxation leaflet which also can be downloaded as an audio-file. Takes young children through sequences of breathing, tensing and relaxing muscles by imagining themselves to be a cat!
- Sesame street “Breathe” App (US) This is a lovely little interactive App for dealing with common toddler/younger child scenarios which can lead to worry or frustration e.g. feeling anxious about going to nursery/school or getting frustrated putting on shoes, by teaching kids to stop, take a breath and think of solutions. Choice of Spanish or English. The link will take to a review of the App on ‘Common Sense Media’. It’s free and available for Apple or android.