A leaflet about anxiety for children

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1 A leaflet about anxiety for children

2 Josie had a bad feeling about today. She d been lying awake since her clock said 4 o clock. Her belly felt like there was a wrestling match going on inside it, her heart was going really fast, her hands were all sweaty and it was hard to breathe right. When her mum called her to get up and get ready for school it started getting worse. She just knew that she was going to get all her words jumbled up in the spelling test, and she had already forgotten how to do her 2 times table. She was sure she d spill her food on her at lunch and everyone would laugh at her. Oh, and that bully Tommy was certain to trip her up in the playground. 2

3 Josie didn t want to get up and face all those things she was scared of. She would just have to tell her mum she was too poorly to go to school. The thing is Josie felt like this every morning and the bad feeling stayed with her all day long. This meant she found it hard to sleep properly and she felt sick a lot of the time. She found it really hard to listen in class and so she got told off for not paying attention and sent to the head teacher. This made her worry even more, she hated being told off. Headteacher 3

4 Josie didn t play much with the other children because she was worried she d get hurt or they would laugh at her. The other children thought that it was weird that Josie wouldn t play with them and at first they tried to get her to join in. When Josie still wouldn t join in they called her names, which made Josie feel really bad. Josie would get in trouble sometimes because she would hit children if they came near her. She didn t want to hurt anyone she just got scared. Eventually the children just began ignoring her. This suited Josie because they couldn t do anything bad to her if they ignored her. Listen to some music: Listening to music may have helped Josie to calm down and stop all the worries in her head. Slow breathing: When Josie was worried she found it hard to breathe properly. One thing she could do to help this is to take deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose counting to 8 in your head. Then let your breath out slowly counting to 10. Keep doing this for as long as you need to. While you are doing this try to concentrate on the breathing and counting. These are not the only things that can help; they are just a few ideas. See if you can think of some more things that can help, or ask people you know for some ideas. This booklet is part of a series of leaflets written and designed by Katie Miller, Assistant Psychologist. Input and advice was kindly provided by service users and staff within Northamptonshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. 4 9

5 Try to do the thing you are scared to do: Josie worried a lot about doing things so she stopped doing them. What do you think would have happened if Josie had come out of her room? The other children may have been surprised at first, but the probably would have let her join in and she probably would have had fun. If you are scared to do something maybe you should give it a go. It will be scary at first but you will probably feel better after. Josie even worried that people would think she was silly for worrying so much so she didn t tell anyone. She knew her mum had noticed that something was wrong but she didn t want her mum to know. Whenever her mum asked her what the matter was Josie would shout I m fine leave me alone! Sometimes her mum would get cross at her Why won t you tell me Josie, I want to help you. Josie was sure her mum didn t like her, she would probably rather talk to her sister Bella. Do some exercise: Doing exercise can be a good way to tackle worries. When you do some exercise your body makes chemicals which can help you feel happy! Grab a bike and go for a ride, or go for a walk with your parents or friends. If you have a trampoline then get on it and jump! It seemed to Josie that it had always been this way and it always would be. She just wished she could stay in her room forever all on her own. It wouldn t be very much fun at all and she would get really lonely but at least she d feel safe. 8 5

6 We all have worries sometimes and we all get scared about some things. It s OK to feel a bit worried about a test or about going to a new school or club. Being a bit worried helps our body to get ready for dealing with stressful things. But, for children like Josie who worry all the time life is really tough. When someone worries all the time it is called Anxiety. Anxiety can cause you a lot of problems. In Josie s case her worrying stopped her from being able to do things and having friends, she got in trouble for hurting people and it made her argue with her mum. Here are some ideas: Tell someone your worries: What do you think would have happened if Josie told her mum about her worries? Her mum probably would have given her a big hug and listened to her. She might have been able to think of some ways to help Josie. Maybe you have someone close to you that you can tell your worries to. Sometimes people start worrying more than normal because something bad happens, like they get hurt in an accident and they start worrying it will happen again. Some people have lots of little things that all add up and make them worry a lot. The good news is that there are things you can do to beat anxiety. Can you think of anything Josie could do to help her? Tell your toys: Maybe if Josie had been too scared to tell her mum she could have tried telling her worries to her dolls. It may sound like a silly thing to do but sometimes when you say your worries out loud they seem less scary. And once you have tried telling your toys you may feel ready to tell someone else. 6 7

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