Georgina Delamain Childhood Anxiety Interview

Georgina Delamain Childhood Anxiety Interview

Georgina Delamain Childhood Anxiety Interview

Georgina Delamain, children's counsellor and owner of -Discover Balance' workshops, discusses the strong link between behavioural issues and anxiety, with tips on management for parents.

So your child is the typical, trouble-making class clown. You've been dragged into enough parent teacher meetings to know this much. But what you might not know is that your child's attention seeking ways may be anxiety related.

'Detecting anxiety in children is not as simple as analysing their stress levels. Attention seeking or obsessive behaviour, to vivid dreaming and complete withdrawal are all signs that could point to anxiety."

Georgina suggests a simple approach for parents who are concerned with their child's mental wellbeing.

'It's important for parents to level with their child – it's just as crucial for a parent to know what's going on as it is for their child to recognise the issue within themselves."

Georgina recommends talking to your child about the problem in a safe environment; for example while you are cooking or driving, so they don't feel overwhelmed. Whether the issue is disrupted sleep or problems at school, a deeper issue will usually surface.

'Once the root of the problem is clearer you can work out strategies to deal with it."

One of Georgina's most effective anxiety management strategies is simple breathing techniques to help restore calm in a stressful situation. Georgina outlines the steps below.

'It is important to find a quiet spot or corner where your child can sit or lie down and focus on relaxing. Eventually, the breathing technique will become linked with this calming space."

Deep breathing: sit comfortably watching the path of your breath, inhaling and exhaling as deeply as possible. Breathe deeply into your belly, up through your chest and finally into your shoulders and throat. Exhale and reverse the order, repeating at least three times until the anxiety is replaced by calmness.

Alternate nostril breathing: Place your thumb on one nostril and your middle finger on the other. Lift one of the fingers to allow you to inhale then place it back on the nostril, alternating between nostrils and repeating the exercise three times.

For more information on children's behavioural and learning difficulties, visit www.discover-balance.com

Interview with Georgina Delamain

Question:How does childhood anxiety typically present, what are the symptoms?

Georgina Delamain: The symptoms are very varied and reveal themselves differently in introverted or extroverted personalities for example extroverted children could show their stress and anxiety by misbehaving/ attention seeking behaviour possibly acting like the class clown, whereas the more introverted/sensitive children will become more withdrawn, clingy exhibiting fear involving day to day activities such as crossing the road.


Question:How does childhood anxiety develop?

Georgina Delamain: Anxiety develops for a number of reasons it is difficult to pinpoint one particular reason it is often a result of the individual feeling abandoned as a young baby for something that seems very small and insignificant such as when their mother leaves them alone in their room to get something or do something. It is the result of varied circumstances and usually can't be blamed on one particular occurrence but a build-up, certain individuals are often more susceptible and prone to stress and anxiety from a very young age. As children grow into young adults, and they have the added onslaught of hormones rushing through their body causing hormonal changes more worries can develop and their already present anxieties can become more intense to deal with.


Question:What should parents be looking for, in terms of childhood anxiety?

Georgina Delamain: Particular behaviours such as extreme clinginess, avoidance such as hiding to avoid doing things, disrupted sleep patterns, weight gain/loss, misbehaviour at school, new obsessions and fears to name a few.


Question:What questions can a parent ask their child if they suspect they have anxiety?

Georgina Delamain: The actual question should be related to what is going on in their child's life at that moment such as what things are going well and others that are not i.e what do they like about school and what they don't? Who they enjoy hanging out with? What makes them happy? What causes them stress? The important thing is not so much the question but the situation it is asked in so that the child doesn't feel put on the spot.

I recommend talking to your child about the problem in a safe environment; for example while you are cooking or driving, so they don't feel overwhelmed. Children may feel more comfortable talking when they don't have to look you in the eye. Whether the issue is disrupted sleep or problems at school, a deeper issue will usually surface.

'Once the root of the problem is clearer you can work out strategies to deal with it."


Question:How is childhood anxiety different to anxiety experienced in adults?

Georgina Delamain: Children are often less able to express what is going on. The anxiety is the same and because they often don't have the vocabulary or coping skills to deal with it, it can be much more frustrating and confusing for a child.


Question:What can cause childhood anxiety?

Georgina Delamain: Anxiety in kids can be caused by many different things, but common factors are lack of confidence and changes in environment as previously mentioned they are often a build-up of fears, phobias and worries a feeling of hopelessness and lack of control.


Question:What are the treatment options for childhood anxiety?

Georgina Delamain: Teaching them coping skills; such as breathing techniques, awareness of what triggers their anxiety, relaxation techniques such as meditating, creating their own sanctuary in their room where they can relax and feel safe.
One of the most effective anxiety management strategies is using simple breathing techniques to help restore calm in a stressful situation.
It's important to find a quiet spot or corner where your child can sit or lie down and focus on relaxing. Eventually, the breathing technique will become linked with this calming space.

The deep breathing steps are as follows:
Sit comfortably watching the path of your breath, inhaling and exhaling as deeply as possible. Breathe deeply into your belly, up through your chest and finally into your shoulders and throat.

Exhale and reverse the order, repeating at least three times until the anxiety is replaced by calmness.


Question:Will children suffering from anxiety experience panic attacks?

Georgina Delamain: Very possibly especially if their anxiety goes undiagnosed and they have not learnt strategies to help themselves calm down and relax and most importantly try to avoid the situation or circumstance that is triggering this response.


Question:If undiagnosed will a child anxiety worsen?

Georgina Delamain: Yes.


Question:How common is childhood anxiety?

Georgina Delamain: Very common but manifests differently and to different degrees it is not always picked up on by family but may manifest at school in behaviour. Anxiety and depression are much more common among our young than we realise.


Interview by Brooke Hunter





MORE