Parents and Carers

Anxiety in secondary school and beyond can cause many of the same issues as in younger children, such as problems with sleep, school avoidance, or panic attacks. It can be a real worry and difficult to know what to do. Is it just a normal amount of stress or is it making your child sad, irritable, sleepless or angry? A lot of young people express their anxiety through anger, so you might just be noticing they are particularly rude or grumpy. Anxious people also often feel the need to control things – this might for example be in the form of superstitious rituals, tidying, rigid eating or being inflexible to changes in plans. 

Physical symptoms such as palpitations or feeling sick are also common, caused by the excess of stress hormones in the body. In addition, there may be new issues such as self-harm, eating disorders, or depression. 

The good news is that young people can learn techniques to allow them to cope better with anxiety and stress which will stand them in good stead as they grow up. These techniques can be self-taught (or learnt with parents), or might sometimes need the help of a counsellor. They can also start to work out what early warning signs of being overwhelmed feel like and what sorts of things help them- is it going for a walk, doing exercise, talking to someone, writing a journal, doing something creative or something else altogether? Learning how to cope with stressful and unpredictable events is a useful life skill. There are ideas below and, depending on the age of your child and how much time you have, even workbooks that you can do together.

Many schools have counsellors who are used to dealing with anxiety, being such a common problem in this age group. Have a look at our guide on counselling, including some options for online counselling (some detailed below).   

Resources for Parents and Carers  

For young people: do I have anxiety? 

Coping with anxiety and stress is all about finding what works for you. Exercise works for lots of people but it might be different for you. Look at the games and top tips section below to find some ideas and there’s more on our support pages.

Find out more about how anxiety and panic can affect the body


Helplines, games and top tips