How parents can help an anxious child

4) Tips to help your child – talking

Talk to your child. It may sound a little obvious but asking the right questions can be very useful. Tell your child that it is OK to tell you when they are feeling anxious.

Ensure you make time to speak with your child about their worries. When your child is talking to you, give them your time and full attention. Listen carefully to what they are trying to say. Ensure they know it is okay to talk to you about their worries. They may be worried about school, friendships or many things besides their health. Once you explore what is worrying them, you may be able to do something very simple to help them and reassure your child. Ask what is making them feel anxious.

Younger children may have difficulty putting into words how they really feel and they may not use the same words or expressions as you would hear from an older child or adult. Words like worry/ scared/ what makes you feel funny in your tummy? If they are struggling to express themselves you could try asking them to draw how they feel. Older children may want to write their worries down or keep a diary.

Learn to tell the different levels of anxiety your child is feeling is by getting them to rate how afraid they are on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 is not scared at all up to 5 feeling terrified and anxious with physical symptoms. This will give them a way of describing to you how intense their anxiety is in different situations.

Talk to your child about a change before it happens. It is helpful to be honest and open about their asthma and hospital appointments so they will have fewer surprises. They may be worried about what will happen and how they will cope. If you can,  discuss calmly, reassure and explain situations to help your child.  Get them to write down any concerns or questions they want to ask the healthcare team.

Tell them about their asthma and why it is important to take inhalers and medicines which will help prevent breathlessness and attacks. Your asthma team can also help you to talk to your child about asthma.