Sometimes what might worry a child is obvious, such as an exam or traumatic event. Other concerns may be more subtle but still a big concern for a child, from bullying to falling out with friends or siblings.
It’s important to let a worried child know other children have had similar concerns and that there is a way forward.
Here are some things children worry about, plus some tips on helping them cope.
Any change to the dynamics of a family can be unsettling for a child, from parents’ rows to divorce, separation and new partners.
Try to talk to children about their concerns and reassure them that, arguments for example, are not their fault.
New arrivals in a family in the form of a new brother or sister, or the death of a relative can also be unsettling. Find an age-appropriate way to talk about a death in the family.
Sometimes a family has to uproot itself and relocate. Leaving the familiar home and friends behind can worry children.
Try to explore what they might be able to look forward to as well as any downsides. Will they be closer to a park or have a bigger room, for example.
Children may feel under pressure to look good, wear the right things and have the latest gadgets. Without them they may feel they don’t fit in and nobody likes them.
Discuss what difference having the right items will really make in their lives and if they still want them maybe try and introduce a sense of value by suggesting they save their pocket money for them or do jobs around the home to earn them.
Boys and girls may think they are too fat or not the right shape. It’s impossible to protect children from the messages they get from the media but reassure them and encourage them to be positive about their body image. Let them know the perfect images they see in magazines aren’t real and have been airbrushed and that they are loved for who they are not just for how they look.
Homework and exam pressure
Even primary school children get homework and the pressure of getting it all done can be worry for a child. Tests and grades can seem to be more important to a child and their school at a younger age than in parents’ school days.
Try to make sure there’s still time after school for activities other than homework, such as a sports club, to help them blow off steam.
Starting at a new school
A child may have to change school because of a house move, because parents feel another school would suit their child better or perhaps because of problems at the old school.
Whatever the reasons, remember it can be hard being the new kid at school. Making friends and getting to grips with schoolwork that’s out of sync with the curriculum in the last school can worry a child.
Lack of sporting success
Not everyone can be in the first team, so try not to let children get put off playing a sport just because they don’t think they are any good at it.
In a competitive game, it can be hard to understand it is not just about the winning, but the fun and health benefits of taking part are just as important.
Fear of the dark
When lights go out at bedtime a child’s room can look very different and a friendly toy can cast a strange shadow like a monster. Reassure them that monsters are only in fairy tales and the dark is for sleeping.
Kids worry about lots of things you’d never even dream about. So try and help your child when they’ve got something on their mind…