Top ten guidelines for tackling child anxiety

Donald Trump's presidency, nuclear war and global warming are said to be causing anxiety for around a third of children according to the latest YouGov survey.

The threat of terrorism topped the list, following a survey of parents in the South East with children aged five to 18, with 35 per cent stating it causes their children anxiety - a figure which falls below national average of 41 percent.

The YouGov survey, which saw more than 1800 parents included nationally, was commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation to uncover the impact world events could be having on children, and equip parents to respond.

It showed a fifth of parents in the South East indicated their children were anxious about the threat of nuclear war, 31 per cent thought their children were anxious about Donald Trump’s presidency and 30 per cent also thought their children were anxious about global warming and climate change.

Child psychology expert Dr Camilla Rosan of the Mental Health Foundation said: “We often forget that distressing world events can have a significant impact on the mental health of our children. This is especially true in the digital age where it’s no longer possible to shield our children from worrying or scary news.

“Our poll indicates widespread anxiety among children– especially about the threat of terrorism. But the good news is there is a lot we can do to help children cope with scary events.

“It’s important for example to let children know the facts of any given event but also to put things into perspective and let them know they are safe. Anxiety about scary news events is normal, but not something children have to deal with alone.

“Parents can really help tackle problems early and support good mental health for their children by talking about these issues in an open and honest way. This lets them know that it’s okay to talk about scary or tricky subjects, and hopefully, will give them the confidence to talk about things that might be playing on their mind at other times too.”

In terms of signs British parents are noticing, of those whose children were anxious, six in ten (61 per cent) have noticed their children starting to ask a lot more questions, a quarter (24 per cent) had noticed their children seeking reassurance, and 13 per cent reported that their children have gone as far as asking to avoid activities such using public transport or going to busy public places. A further eight per cent reported their children having nightmares.

The survey also found that overall almost four in ten UK parents (39 percent) were concerned that their children are becoming more anxious about world and national events.

The Mental Health Foundation which works to prevent mental health problems, has released 10 guidelines for parents ‘How to talk to your children about scary world news’ available for free on their website. The tips included are:

A news-blackout is rarely helpful

Let them know the facts

Discourage overexposure

Let your children know they are safe

Let them know that it is normal to be concerned

Tailor the conversation to their age

Find the right time to talk about it

Leave lots of space for questions

Allow for repetition

Be as truthful as possible