Anxiety in primary school-age children is really common. It may show itself as behaviour problems, separation anxiety, anger, school refusal, sleep problems. or even tics and rituals. For many children, these are just normal phases to go through, but for some, it can get so bad, it affects what they can and cannot do, and may impact the whole family. We’ve selected some websites, books and videos below with some practical ideas on how you can help your child.
- For School anxiety and school refusal see this page
Apps and Games
- Childline has a fantastic section of fun games for relaxation and distraction for all ages including breathing exercises like box breathing. There is also a page for drawing and some ideas for managing anxiety.
- Clearfear beautifully designed App for children and young people with ideas to help you react to worries better, manage your emotions, and manage physical responses to anxiety. Highly rated.
- Smiling Mind Free Mindfulness App with specific sections for 7-9 years, 10-12 years and older. The App also includes Classroom sessions for teachers.
- Headspace A hugely popular mindfulness and meditation App for adults, this also has a section for children. The adult section is free for ten sessions and is also suitable for older children. The children’s meditations are shorter but that section is not free although you can subscribe for a month at a time.
“Good for relaxation and helping you sleep” (Kenny, age 12y)
“The animations are simple to understand which means it’s good for any age” (Parent)
- SAM Suitable for older children this has an anxiety tracker and several options to help if you’re feeling panicky including calm breathing and a nice distraction feature.
- Relaxation CD Enchanted Meditations for Kids by Christiane Kerr (CD/audiobook) is one of a series of CDs recommended by the Royal College of Psychiatry.
Online advice and guidance
- Managing your anxiety For children and young people: a really clear explanation of how anxiety can affect you with lots of ideas of how to manage it. For younger children this might be something to look at together, older children could look at this themselves.
- YoungMinds Discusses common symptoms of anxiety and some simple advice: helpful to read together as a starting point for discussion or for younger children try the video and the advice on Childline (see video section). YoungMinds also have a helpline on 0808 802 5544
- Supporting your anxious child: YoungMinds Parents Guide Good advice with a video from the Parent’s Lounge and some links to other websites.
- Practical steps for supporting your child with anxiety and what types of anxiety are common at different ages
- Is my child showing signs of trauma or is this normal?
- The Anxious Child; Obsessional behaviours, sleep problems, school refusal and more A helpful leaflet on anxiety in children covering all age groups written by the Mental Health Foundation
- MindEd Great website with information and videos for families and carers. It requires a log-in but is free. Look under the “Common problems” menu for advice on worries, school refusal and many other issues.
- Worries and anxieties-helping children to cope Advice on anxiety in children and young people from the Royal College of Psychiatry
- What do we know about childhood anxiety and what can parents do about it? This Podcast discusses anxiety with expert Professor Cathy Creswell from the University of Reading, and Beckie, whose whole family was affected by her son’s anxiety.
Books for Children
- What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner. Good from about 6-7 years, some American terminology.
- Hey Awesome: A Book about Anxiety, Courage and Being Already Awesome. See also Hey Warrior by the same authors
- Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping with Events in the News by Dawn Huebner By the same author, a useful book for talking through worries about world events, ideal for 6-12 yr olds. Available as part of the Reading Well scheme in your local library.
- My Hidden Chimp A book based on the Chimp Paradox but for children, helping them manage their emotions. Highly rated by parents
- Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival.Carefully worded and beautifully illustrated, ideal for any 3-8+ year old who worries or panics easily.
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst – from 3-7 years, highly rated by parents for separation anxiety, loss and grief.
- Silly Billy by Anthony Browne.“Good for about 4-8-year-olds, introducing the idea of worry dolls which gives an outlet for worries and shows they are not alone. Well written and nice illustrations” (Louis age 14)
- Help! There’s an Alarm Bell Going off in My Head! by K Aspen. Explains how stress and anxiety affect the body. Appealing to all ages from about 7-8 yrs+, even teens.
- Oscar meets his Worry Chimpby Jo and Abby Richings (a mother and daughter team from Bristol).
- Worries Go Away! by Kes Gray. A rhyming picture book for younger children, perfect to start talking about being worried.
- The PanicosaurusManaging Anxiety in Children (including those with Asperger Syndrome) A children’s colour storybook around 5-8 years – perfect for that anxious dinosaur fan!
- No Worries! Mindful Kids: An activity book for young people who sometimes feel anxious or stressed.
Books for Parents
- Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-step Guide for Parents
“A clearly written book for parents and their children. The authors are child psychologists. From the way it is written, it is obvious they have great practical knowledge of the common ways in which anxiety may present itself in children, and how to break problems down into bite-sized chunks so that they can be tackled without being too overwhelming. They illustrate various forms of anxiety problems using descriptions of hypothetical child characters, that children can identify with (or not) allowing them to hear how the child in the book overcame their particular problem. It sets out a weekly plan of ‘homework’ for the parent and child to do together, with appropriate rewards for the child as they make progress. The parent has to pre-read each chapter before they do each weekly ‘exercise’ with their child, and parents can learn a lot from the pre-reading, even though the book is aimed at children. It definitely requires some dedication and sticking to the program, and takes a couple of months to work through completely, but is not overly demanding, and takes things at a good pace. My son (age 9 -10 yrs) and I actually enjoyed working on it together. It is mainly aimed at junior school children and wouldn’t be quite so relevant for teens.” (Parent)
- Overcoming Your Child’s Fears and Worries A Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques. Helps parents use techniques to help their child overcome a tendency to worry as well as specific fears and phobias. Although there is a lot of detail, you can dip into it for some useful tips without reading the whole book.