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Worries & Anxiety

What do children worry about?
Fears and worries are a normal part of life for all of us. Most children and young people worry from time to time and they need to learn skills to manage these worries. The content of these worries will change as your child or young person gets older. Common worries include:

• Being scared of the dark
• Having bad dreams 
• Ghosts and monsters
• Animals 
• Worries about doing new things or going to new places 
• Exams and the future
• Changing school or moving house
• Death
• Fitting in with friends or peers.

Anxiety is when these worries become big and overwhelming.

  • What is anxiety?
    Anxiety can happen when worries build up and make your child feel frightened or unhappy. Children may sense this in their body and might need an adult to help them to understand what these feelings are. They might experience:
    • feeling sick, having ‘butterflies’ in their tummy 
    • their heart beating faster
    • needing to go to the toilet
    • having tummy aches and/or headaches.

    This is a normal reaction and is sometimes called the ‘fight or flight’ response. Our bodies are letting us know that there is a danger. We can stay and fight the danger or run away.

    Everyone gets anxious from time to time and feeling anxious is normal in situations we find difficult or stressful. For some children, that might be taking an exam or standing up and speaking in front of people. Stressful situations with friends or family may also cause children to worry.


  • Here are some tips for getting on top of worries and anxiety:

    • Make sure your child is eating a healthy diet, has a good sleep routine, and is getting fresh air and exercise. If children feel well physically, they will feel better mentally
    • Encourage your child to talk to you about their worries. Stay calm and listen to what they are worried about
    • Talk to your child about emotions and name them
    • Help your child learn to ‘pause’, spot the emotion they are feeling and what is happening to them. Try the Turtle Technique
    • Help your child to find ways to face their fears in a safe way
    • Praise your child for talking about their worries
    • Support your child with time and safe space to deal with their worries
    • Create a worry box with your child. 

  • Available to download as a PDF below. 

  • Reading Well for young people

    Books about mental health for 13 to 18 year olds, with advice and information about issues like anxiety, stress and OCD, bullying and exams.

    All Shelf Help books can be reserved for free from any Norfolk library, or online by clicking here. The books are available to borrow for up to six weeks.


    Health Uncovered is a series of podcasts that aims to get young people in-tune with their health and wellbeing. The series is hosted by BBC Radio One presenter Cel Spellman and features young people and health professionals from our Norfolk Healthy Child Programme.

    Life isn't always easy - and young people across the country have been helping us explore the issues that they’re facing today. From online bullying to sexual health, body image to mental health. They've been asking the questions you want to hear answered, joined by the health professionals that help young people, like school nurses and mental health specialists, to provide solutions, support and understanding.

    Our service and young people have been particularly involved with episode 3 “me and my emotions” and episode 4 “are you ready?”

    Listen now!  The podcasts are free and you can listen via mobile devices, tablets and laptops.  Just search “Health Uncovered” in your favourite podcast app, like iTunes, alternatively you can use the player below:


Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum. CLICK HERE

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