• Katharine Gardner

Do you have an anxious child?

It is totally understandable that everyone’s levels of anxiety are heightened at the moment. The global coronavirus pandemic is restricting our freedoms and our choices, in so many ways. Activities and events that brought us fun and excitement are no longer going ahead. Social interaction with our friends and families is very much restricted, and can be the source of upset and sadness.

In our sensible minds, we know it’s to ensure we all stay safe. But emotionally, it’s hard to cope with. Some days will be easier than others, we’re still riding that Coronacoaster. Due to the uncertainty and restrictions placed on us, our emotions may be heightened and our tolerances may be lowered. This can really have a massive impact on our resilience to cope with day to day life. When we’re feeling like this, negative feelings of overwhelm, stress, anxiety and depression, feelings of helplessness, and hopelessness can really start to dominate the days.

Anxiety and stress overload can be at the centre of so many issues – poor sleep, confidence and self-image; it makes OCD more exaggerated; it can bring on an IBS flare up; it can totally knock your sense of self and your focus for life.

For children, their stress shows up in slightly different ways – they may revert to more childish ways for example having tantrums, have trouble settling to sleep, wet the bed, develop fussiness about clothing, food or routines. And this is stressful for parents! We are all suffering from the daily juggling act of life, and when there is yet more stress to add in, it’s not easy to cope.

Anxiety and stress can manifest itself in a negative cycle, you both “feed” off each other, subtly sensing clues, collecting and storing them as “evidence” that’s there’s something to be worried about or afraid of. And the more negative thoughts and experiences you both have, the stronger the anxiety becomes, embedding the negative behaviours as habits.

So perhaps try to work on breaking the cycle. Here are some ideas you may find useful to help keep harmony in your household:


Getting a good quality, refreshing night’s sleep is the foundation to all health and wellness. Without it, we are more prone to emotional outbursts, lack concentration, feel sad, be unable to regulate our appetite, and also are more likely to become physically ill due to a lowered immune system. You could try a new relaxing bedtime routine, start a little earlier if necessary, and incorporate some positive, quiet activities. You (or your child) could write a few notes about what they have enjoyed about the day, things they are proud of, funny moments that gave them a laugh. Once the lights are dimmed you could try a short guided relaxation, which allows for physical relaxation as well as mental calming down time. There are many books you can buy, or you can use one of the live recordings from my facebook page: www.facebook.com/kghypnotherapy


If you have flash points in the day that cause anxiety and conflict, you can try to imagine the scenario going well instead. Choose a relaxed time to sit together, both close your eyes and tell a little story....... imagine every little detail of the morning routine for example going smoothly, no hassles, feeling calm and so on. It gives your brains a chance to experience it going well. I use a reframe with most of my clients in some form, I ask them to imagine themselves at their very best, coping with everything so easily, so calmly, and working things out in a way that is just right for them.


Our brains are hard wired for survival to work as a team, be sociable, and pick up unspoken clues from body language and tone of voice, by the use of mirror neurons. So if you’d like to encourage positive behaviour, for example an easier drop off at school, you could perhaps try using the power of mirroring ….. maybe using a positive tone of voice, distraction by talking about what you’ll do straight after school, or telling your child that you really value their kindness and other lovely qualities.... it may help to change the mood to a more upbeat one. Also try not to allow any negative talk from other household members too, say you have a mission to do together, which will help the overall atmosphere in the house.


Self-esteem can be built up by complimenting your child’s nice qualities, it helps to build resilience in tough situations. So instead of saying what a great result in their maths test, you could compliment their determination to stick with it and work it out. Instead of noting their lovely handwriting, how about complimenting their attention to detail in forming lovely lettering. A nice piece of artwork…. perhaps compliment their effort. You get the idea, it’s about the qualities they have inside of them that allowed that great result to happen. Then they can transfer that to another area that they may be struggling with. It also builds resilience, and helps children cope with failure, because if they have the knowledge and belief that they are really determined, they can change their result.


Fun and enjoyable activities, especially when we share them with those we love, release chemicals in our brains like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. They have the effect of helping us feel more motivated, calmer, happier, and more connected to each other. Being physically relaxed helps us become mentally more relaxed. When we’re not in ‘fight or flight’ mode we are calmer, and we can handle things much better. Do more of what you enjoy, and maybe seek out new activities that you can enjoy together. Mindful colouring, dancing in the kitchen, singing, painting, story-telling, hide and seek, cycling, playdoh, yoga …. there are so many things to choose from!

Helping yourself first and foremost to become more relaxed and less anxious about life could be a really good starting point. To find out about one-to-one hypnotherapy sessions, where you can unlearn unhelpful habits, replace them with more helpful ones and begin to feel more in control and positive…. call or text Katharine on 07966 243876 or email info@kghypnotherapy.co.uk

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