It’s National Anti-Bullying Week this week and we’re catching up with some key players in the island who provide support and advice for anyone who has been touched by bullying. Lorna Fairclough, from Parent2Parent, spoke to us about her experience. She said:
‘Here at Parent2Parent our Volunteer Support Workers speak to a lot of parents who are struggling to support their children with anxiety.
As a parent it can be the worst thing, watching your child struggling and not being able to do a lot to help. We are pleased to see there’s a lot more support in schools these days as more and more young people struggle with anxiety related conditions.
One thing we have noticed is there are similarities from most of the parents who talk to us. Sadly, a lot of the issues relate to bullying or peer pressure within friendship groups. Fitting into a friendship group can be difficult, especially during the teenage years…
Friendship groups are so important especially during this period, and it is very difficult for a parent to know what is actually going on within that friendship group. But don’t ever doubt the importance of friends at this age. If your child seems withdrawn and is spending more time than usual alone or in their bedroom, have the conversation with them. Signs of withdrawing from clubs they have enjoyed for some time could be an indication that something is very wrong.
One of the side effects of chronic anxiety can be chronic fatigue. Being in the ‘fight or flight’ mode for a lot of the day at school can be very draining and result in extreme tiredness. That has a knock-on effect of being too tired to socialise once the school day ends. This tends to result in the child/teenager being excluded from friendship groups which then causes them more anxiety and so the vicious circle continues.
If you have a friend or relative struggling with anxiety or a related condition, be patient. No one enjoys being anxious. So be kind, try to understand that they are not cancelling their plans with you because they want to, but because they are so exhausted from being anxious all the time and they need to rest.
If you have a child/teenager who will talk to you, that’s great but not all teenagers are happy to discuss their personal stuff with their parents. If this is the case, try to get another family member to have a chat to them or a trusted teacher.
Early intervention is key!