Worrying is not just an adult thing. Many children and young people are showing more signs of anxiety, statistics tell us. In a recent article in the Telegraph it was stated that the number of young patients treated in hospitals for anxiety has increased by 42% over the last year. In 2015/2016 alone there were more than 10,000 patients under 18 admitted with a diagnosis of anxiety. These figures include almost 2,500 children who were 12 and under, with more than 200 cases involving children aged four and five, as well as 92 diagnoses of children aged three or less.
These worrying statistics continue and what’s more concerning is that these are just children and young people admitted to hospitals. For every one of those there must by hundreds who don’t go to hospital.
In my last blog we mentioned the current focus on Mental Health awareness in schools and on my travels around schools since then it’s apparent that whilst being aware is essential this can just add more pressure on school staff to meet yet another need in our complex children that should be met elsewhere.
Some of the little things we can do though are to provide resources and tools for children in school to help them process their anxieties and learn to manage their emotions better. I’m constantly on the look out for such things. This week I came across Worrits. I’ll let Sarah Heron (the creator of Worrit’s) introduce them to you herself.
Unique and handcrafted, colourful and fun, ‘Worrit’ the friendly Worry Monster is soft, cuddly and child size. Children write down or draw their worries/fears/phobias and feed it into Worrit’s open mouth. The zip is then closed and Worrit eats the worry taking the fear away or holds it there until the child is ready to talk about it.
Worrits are an excellent resource for children with attachment issues, separation anxieties, confidence issues, ASD, special needs and others, allowing children to express what’s upsetting them. It also allows parents, carers and teachers to peek at the note and gain an insight into the child’s concerns. The child can express anxieties about phobias – the dentist, swimming, the dark whatever it may be – or anxieties about family conflict, friendships, shyness and so on. The list is endless! Worrit offers comfort to sensitive, fearful, bereaved, withdrawn children in much the same way that we as adults may write our feelings down as a source of comfort. Often children find it easier to ‘talk’ to a pet or toy, somehow the toy makes it ‘OK’ to open up.
The Worrit has been developed by myself – Sarah Heron. I am a former primary school teacher who taught for many years across both key stages and within both the independent and state sectors. I have gained vast experience in leading core and foundation subjects but left teaching when I felt the nurturing aspect of the role was being compromised. Curriculum overload, crowded timetables and unrealistic ‘academic’ targets meant time to actually talk and listen to the children, time for Circle Time to explore children’s feelings and time to simply nurture young children was lost and I felt very sad about this.
I believe children don’t learn ‘in little boxes’ and prefer to work seamlessly, hand in hand with parents and carers, to engage and enthuse children and my great passion is to inspire a love of learning in all my pupils. Something that can only be achieved if children feel happy, secure and valued. With increasing emphasis on the mental health of children I believe there will be an increasing need for Worrits and other similar aids. We may yet see a whole host of inspirational ways to support children’s emotional well being – watch this space!
For more details on Worrits and how to buy them contact Sarah at [email protected].