Many of the resources here have been devised by our professional team for use at school and at home. We have also included links to some external resources which have been recommended.

How to help your child when world events are frightening

When the world seems an uncertain place or world events are frightening, our children look to us for reassurance and advice. Sometimes knowing just what to share with them or how to answer their questions can be confusing for parents and carers and will depend very much on the age of your child or young person. We have prepared some tips and ideas which might help at times such as these. Scroll to the bottom of our page for our suggestions around talking to adolescents.

  • Be mindful of what news your child is watching or hearing and think about putting boundaries around this. Having the news on in the background might be making your child feel more anxious about their own safety.
  • Be aware of conversations you are having at home when your children are within earshot and being mindful of what they may overhear. They will pick up your fears and anxieties easily.
  • When your child asks what is happening, it is always useful to find out what they know first. For example, it might be useful to think about the following:
  1. What they have heard and what they know already.
  2. What they understand.
  3. How they feel.
  4. What are their fears and worries.
  5. How you will support them and keep them safe.
  • Be led by your child’s questions and do offer opportunities in the day for them to ask questions.
  • Always remain open and honest with your child, whilst keeping the information given at a level that is age appropriate. Perhaps begin with simple information as too much detail may overwhelm your child.
  • Older children will have information at their fingertips, so they may benefit from one-to-one time with you, to explain things and talk through what they have seen and heard on social media, the news, from friends or teachers. In contrast, much younger children will need to hear things from a more basic viewpoint. Don’t forget that you can allow the conversation to be led by your child’s questions and try to keep your answers age appropriate.
  • If you don’t know the answer to your child’s questions, be honest and let them know this. At the same time, you can pick up the feeling underneath the question and reflect this back to them: for example, “I am not sure of the answer to that, but I wonder whether underneath the question, you might be feeling worried right now”. You could follow this by reassuring them that they are safe: for example, “I do know that we are safe now and I wonder what we could do to help you feel safe when that question pops back into your head?”
  • Normalise and validate all feelings, which includes both your child’s feelings and your own. It is important that children feel supported in the conversation and their feelings and thoughts are not dismissed.
  • Take action. This can be a way to help the child feel part of the solution and can offer an age-appropriate focus for them, for example getting involved in fundraising, collecting some things to donate, writing letters to key people, or making pictures or posters about world peace.
  • Look after yourself in this. What happens in the world is affecting all of us. Make sure you are doing what you need to help you feel safe. This might be connecting with others or going out in nature. It is also worth being mindful of the amount of news that you are listening to yourself, as this may be increasing your levels of stress and worry.

How to support your adolescent or older child

  • Teenagers will have information at their fingertips. They may well be seeing and reading a lot of information online, on social media, from the news, and hearing information at school. It is therefore important that you keep communication open between you and your child, perhaps scheduling in some one-to-one time so you can have an uninterrupted conversation about what is happening, offering your support and helping them manage what might be going through their minds.
  • It is good to start with what they know and explore with them what their feelings and thoughts are about it all. This will allow you an understanding of their perspective on things. You can then talk through the facts with them, thinking things through together, and at the same time, helping them become aware that some of what they are reading may be fake news or misreported.
  • You don’t need to have all the answers, but being there for your child and trying to help them make sense of things will help them feel less isolated with their thoughts.
  • Allow them to express any feelings that they need to and let them know that these feelings are okay and make sense. In doing this, you can show them that you understand them and that their feelings are important and valid. Give them plenty of reassurance that you are there for them and that you will get through this together.
  • You could suggest to your teen that they could express some of their emotions through creativity, for example through art, writing, music or even song writing - whatever they feel drawn to.
  • Let your teen know that consuming large amounts of negative news isn’t helpful for them, and you could therefore perhaps think with them about minimising how often they are reading the news. You could suggest that, instead, they check in with the news at certain times of the day for specific periods of time, and then try to focus on other, more nurturing things.
  • If your teen has their phone on alert for news messages coming in, this will increase their worry and anxiety. Perhaps encourage them to have these alerts turned off. Also, be mindful of whether your child has their phone with them at night as if they are checking news before they go to bed or even throughout the night, this will increase feelings of worry and anxiety. Perhaps, instead, encourage them to listen to a mindfulness app before bedtime or maybe listen to some calming music.
  • Encourage your teen to plan some things that they enjoy doing. Perhaps you could both do some of these things together, for example going for a walk, kicking a ball around or watching a comedy together, with the aim of bringing some positivity and balance into the day.
  • It would be beneficial to think about what sites your teen follows on social media, and to encourage them to try to minimise the sites that are showing more upsetting images and perhaps replace with sites that portray more positive news stories.
  • You could think with your child about how the media often focus on negativity, whereas there are many positive, beautiful things that are happening in the world on a daily basis that will never be reported.
  • Practise finding the ‘helpers’ with your teen, so rather than solely focusing on the bad events happening, see if you can find the people who are offering help and kindness to those who are suffering. You could point out how the good things that are happening hugely outweigh the bad events.
  • Take action: this can be a way to help the young person feel part of the solution, for example getting involved in fundraising, collecting useful things to donate or writing letters to key people.
  • Look after yourself in this. What happens in the world is affecting all of us. Make sure you are doing what you need to help you feel safe. This might be connecting with others or going out in nature. It is also worth being mindful of the amount of news that you are listening to yourself, as this may be increasing your levels of stress and worry.

Going through a transition

A transition is a time of change and we all go through many of these as we move through different life stages. Young people will encounter many changes as they grow up, for example from starting school, moving into a new class or a new school, moving home, transitioning from primary school to secondary school or moving to college or sixth form and beyond.

How it can feel and why it can be difficult

Whilst transitions can be exciting for some young people, in others it can stir up feelings of stress and worry as they are forced to let go of the familiar and move into the unknown. Significant transitions can feel intimidating at first and it can take time to settle into the new situation. Change can be particularly difficult for a young person if they are not feeling ready to move on, they are feeling that the change is out of their control, or perhaps they are already struggling with other issues in their life.

What is happening for the child?

When the student transitions to a different school, there will be a variety of factors that are different, for example a change from primary to secondary school may mean:

  • The child is travelling to school by themselves for the first time.
  • They will have to get used to an unfamiliar building which will be vastly bigger than their primary school and they will need to adjust from being part of a community of a few hundred pupils to one with possibly a thousand or more.
  • There will be pressure to make new friendships in their new school, and a sense of needing to find out where they ‘fit in’.
  • The young person will be moving from a familiar environment where they felt like ‘big fish in a small pond’, to one where they are the youngest children in the school.
  • They are leaving the routines and structure of primary school behind, leaving behind one teacher who knew them very well, to coping with a mixture of many different teachers.
  • A move to secondary school will mean that the young person will have greater academic pressure and they will also be expected to be more independent with their learning.

This all is happening at a time when a young person’s body and brain is also changing which can make things more stressful and worrying.

Moving on from secondary school

Transition from secondary school to sixth form or college represents a significant shift for a young person moving into student life as a young adult. However, like other life transitions, there will be some young people who feel anxious or overwhelmed by leaving the familiar behind and moving on. Further transitions to university can also bring up feelings of insecurity as young people may be having to leave home to live on their own for the first time which for some may feel exciting but for others it might feel overwhelming, frightening and anxiety provoking.

How transitions can affect behaviour

Leading up to or during a stage of transition, a child or young person’s behaviour might change in several different ways:

  • They might become irritable or agitated or lose their temper more often.
  • They may seem more withdrawn than usual.
  • They might become more anxious and feel overwhelmed.
  • They may find sleeping difficult.
  • They might be more upset or tearful.

Once this is recognised, it makes complete sense and is totally understandable. The young person is going through a period of change and uncertainty, and it will take them time to adjust and get used to the idea.

When the child or young person has made the transition, there are some signs that might tell us that a child or young person is finding their transition difficult:

  • They are finding it hard to make friends.
  • Their behaviour might become disruptive or challenging.
  • There is an increased number of absences from school or college.
  • They are reluctant to go to school or college each day.
  • Lower than expected progress.
  • They might become disengaged with their learning.

Remember, the child is reacting to a new environment and will need time to adjust – this is normal.

However, if a child seems to be finding this transition particularly difficult and they are struggling, it is important for parents to speak with their child’s teachers.

How we can ease transition for children and young people

It is important that transitioning is carefully managed so that the child or young person can feel more confident and secure. During this stage it is vital that children and young people are given the opportunity to talk about their worries and fears and are supported to cope with any readjustments.

Tips for parents:

  • Keep a daily routine in place at home, similar to what was in place before the transition. This helps children and young people to feel secure and less stressed as their home life feels similar even if there are external changes.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep so they can cope better with their new challenges during the day.
  • Talk through any new school routines with your child and perhaps, if there is a new journey involved, do the new trip with them beforehand. This will help them become more familiar with the journey and this may in turn lower anxiety levels.
  • If they are moving to a new school, taking them on a visit beforehand to see their new class/teacher. If their new school move is due to start in September, perhaps ask the school when the current class will be spending time with their new teacher and perhaps see if your child could be there too on that day.
  • Sometimes there might be a parent group for the school and/or year group on social media (for example Facebook) that you could join. Here you might be able to get to know some of your child’s classmates before they start at their new school and maybe even organise a play date during the summer holidays.
  • If the transition is to a new school in a different area, perhaps keep your eye open for parks nearby and you could try to take your child there where they might meet some children from their new school. Or maybe your child could join a new sports team or club in the area.
  • Make sure you talk with your child about how they are feeling about the upcoming change and allow them to share their feelings with you.
  • Reading books with your child about other children who are facing changes may be comforting for your child. If your child is older, perhaps leave books lying around for them to read themselves.
  • Try to be aware of your own feelings about your child’s transition and try to separate them from your child’s feelings so that you aren’t making the situation worse.
  • Many schools have their own website. It might be worth looking things up with your child and you might find some of your/their questions are answered.

Tips for schools:

  • A new child could be paired up with a buddy who is already familiar with the school routines.
  • Near the end of the school year, it would be helpful if your class could meet their new teacher for an afternoon, where they can get an idea of how things will be in September.
  • Give more anxious children jobs to do that will mean they are visiting their new teacher. Perhaps let the new teacher know so they are able to accommodate this.
  • Spend time answering children’s questions about their new teacher. Perhaps allot a specific time for this. Let them know that all questions and thoughts are valid.
  • Have a handover meeting with the new teacher to find out who needs extra support, who might be particularly nervous coming back in September, etc.
  • If your class is moving to secondary school, spend time on ending activities, such as creating a timeline or creating a diary of their time in primary school. Also, think about what they are looking forward to in secondary school and what their worries might be.
  • Engage with parents and carers. Giving them tips and hints of how to help their child’s transition to be as smooth as possible. See the section ‘Tips for parents’ here, to give you some ideas.
  • Create events between transitional settings including talks and taster days.
  • If you are particularly concerned about a child or young person, make sure you speak to your DSL and they should advise on next steps.


Take a look at our Changes and New Class worksheets here. These resources are a simple way for adults to broach the subject of transition anxiety with younger children using simple language and activities.

How we are helping

We provide weekly therapeutic sessions for children and young people who are struggling emotionally, and this would also include children/young people who are finding a transition particularly difficult. We offer the child or young person a safe space to explore their feelings and worries and this can help a young person to feel less alone and supported when they are finding a transition particularly challenging.

How schools can help

Supporting a grieving child can be a difficult thing to do, as it may feel more instinctual to want to protect the child from the pain of dying and loss and maybe not talk about it or distract from it.

However, to fully support the child or young person, we must instead stay with their grief and acknowledge their pain and sadness. Taking time to listen and offer comfort to a child who has suffered a bereavement won’t take the pain away; however, it will give them a greater chance of processing their feelings and emotions and give a clear message that they are cared about.

We have prepared an information pack as a guide for teachers, teaching assistants, learning support assistants, headteachers, education welfare officers and other adults working in schools. It aims to provide you with support and information when a death occurs within the school community.

Schools' Bereavement Pack

Please download a copy of our Schools' Bereavement Information Pack here.

If you would like to talk to us about any issues concerning bereavement at this time, please do not hesitate to contact us – we are here to help:

Email our Head of School Services, Catherine Munns or Louise Picton, our Head of Training and Clinical Supervision.

How parents can help

BBC Newsround has prepared a resource which you can watch alongside your child dealing with the topic of grief and loss.

It gives some practical advice about how to help your child process their feelings and has a very clear message - every feeling is valid and has its own place.

Encourage your child to share how they are feeling with you. Click here to watch.


You can have lots of different emotions, such as feeling sad, confused, worried, angry, lonely or numb. This is normal and it's called grief.
Clare Bullen, Child Bereavement UK

What is Mindfulness?

Life is busy and there is a tendency to rush through our day without stopping to notice what is going on around us.

Paying more attention to the present moment – to our own thoughts and feelings and to the world around us – can improve our mental wellbeing.

Some people call this awareness "mindfulness".

When we take time to be mindful, it can help us relax and enjoy life more and understand ourselves better.

We can all take steps to develop this in our own lives; mindfulness and meditation practice can help us all change the way we think and feel about our experiences – especially stressful experiences.

Through mindfulness exercises, we allow ourselves freedom to pay attention to the present moment, using techniques centred on meditation and breathing.

Recent research from the University of Oxford shows that people who regularly practise mindfulness or meditation can achieve reductions of nearly 60% in their anxiety levels and 40% in their overall stress.

Additionally, research explicitly carried out on teaching staff who have adopted a mindfulness practice has indicated a reduction in ‘burn-out’ and an improvement in classroom performance.

Many of our partner schools will have experienced our mindfulness workshops for staff and, more recently, those for students too.

There has also always been a mindfulness element to our Exam Stress and Anxiety workshops for primary-aged children.

If you would like more information, visit our Mindfulness section for more details of our in-school training for staff and pupils.

Can Mindfulness help at home?

Some staff, parents and children may find that using some mindfulness techniques at home may be helpful in this current situation of uncertainty.

We know that being mindful has a positive effect on our well-being, and helps us to manage anxiety and to promote a sense of compassion.

All these elements are particularly important for children, young people and adults at this time and can be particularly useful when we feel overwhelmed.

Some activities to share with your child

It may be a time for anxious thoughts right now, even for children who don’t usually feel anxiety.

Being creative is a good way of dealing with difficult thoughts or emotions; we can place them on the page and think about them in a different way.

Sometimes just the act of expressing confusing feelings through art can help us feel better, and of course it helps to distract your child and passes some time.

We have included some activities below, devised and used regularly by some of our school workers; you might like to try some of these at home with your child:

Click here to download our Art for Heart booklet - you could work through it with your child while they are at home. These activities are a mix of mindful and creative ways of exploring and expressing feelings of 'being in the moment'.

You can approach these activities in any way that feels right and use a variety of materials you may have to hand. Remember there is no right or wrong way of working on these - just enjoy the process.

You can use our Mindfulness Cards with your child to help talk about feelings, focus on breathing and 'switch off' from anxious thoughts.

Choose a mindful time of the day, ask your child to pick an activity and have some fun together.

Childline's Calm Zone - There are lots of ways to feel calmer. Visit the Calm Zone to try out some breathing exercises, activities, games and videos to help let go of stress.

Susan Kaiser Greenland – an American mindfulness teacher, Susan was one of the first people to bring mindfulness into schools. If you have a look at her website you will find there is a wealth of information and resources for teachers and families including: an excellent FAQ section which deals with all sorts of questions on Mindfulness and Meditation for children.

What is anxiety?

Everyone can feel worried and anxious at times, especially when faced with a stressful situation. However, normally when the situation that triggers our anxiety is over, the anxiety eases. But for some people, this feeling of anxiety can be ongoing, it can feel overwhelming, and can occur on a day-to-day basis.


How does anxiety present itself?

Anxiety can show up in different ways. For example, it could be a general background feeling of unease, or it may feel like a sense of dread that something bad is going to happen. When we are feeling anxious, our bodies, thoughts and behaviours can all be affected and these can manifest in one or more ways:

  • Quick, shallow breathing
  • Heart beating very fast
  • Feeling sick
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating (more than normal)
  • Tense muscles
  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks (where some or many of the symptoms above are felt in a very intense way)
  • Preoccupied with worrying or negative thoughts
  • Feeling a constant sense of fear or of being overwhelmed
  • Withdrawing or isolating from normal activities, perhaps trying to avoid any situation that might bring on anxiety.
  • A reluctance to go to school.
  • Trouble with sleeping
  • Controlling behaviours (i.e., if we can get rid of anything that might go wrong, we can relax, hence the need to control).
  • Feeling on edge or nervous
  • A tendency towards perfectionism

What is happening in our bodies when we feel anxious?

When feelings of anxiety emerge, our brain is interpreting a situation as a threat and is ensuring that the body gets ready to protect itself, by preparing to fight, run away or freeze. We have no control over this response, it is our body’s way of attempting to keep us safe from a perceived danger. This means that our heart will beat faster to pump blood more quickly around the body, our breathing increases, we start to sweat, we might feel shaky as the body prepares itself for action. This is a normal response to a stressful situation, and it usually eases when the triggering situation has died down. However, when this physical response within the body is set off frequently with relatively mild, day to day 'triggers' and the person is left in a more permanent state of anxiety and worry, anxiety then becomes an issue needing attention.

How to help your child if they are feeling anxious

There are ways you can help your child if they are showing some of the signs of anxiety listed above. Tell them you understand how they are feeling and would like to help and some of our suggested techniques:

  • Breath slowly together
  • Be a reassuring, calming presence, reminding them that you are here for them
  • Reassure them that they will be okay
  • Offer them physical reassurance if they want, for example a cuddle, hold hands, or a back rub.
  • Remind them that this will pass and that they are safe.
  • Encourage your child to think of a safe place and imagine they are there right now.
  • Help your child to engage their senses, think with them about what they can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. This will help them connect with their body and feel more grounded.
  • Encourage your child to try activities that help them to relax, for example, yoga, mindfulness or meditation.
  • Make a worry box, where your child can write down or draw their worries throughout the day. If they would like to, they could share these worries with you at an agreed time.
  • Spend quality time together and give them opportunities to talk about their feelings
  • Help your child become aware of the signs they are feeling anxious, (see the signs and symptoms shown above). If your child is aware of what happens in their body when anxious, they can then try to use some of their strategies to try to help bring their system back into a calmer, more regulated state.
  • Be mindful of your own levels of anxiety; children and young people will be affected by the adults around them and their state of mind. If you do feel that you are anxious, try to take time to relax and calm yourself.

If you are a young person, there are things you can do to manage your feelings of anxiety

  • Take regular physical exercise
  • Talk to someone you can trust
  • Find activities that you enjoy doing
  • Engage in yoga, meditation or mindfulness
  • Know that you are not alone but remember to reach out to talk to someone you can trust and share how you are feeling
  • Make sure you make time for yourself and things you enjoy doing
  • Take some slow, deep breaths to steady your heart-rate
  • Make a soothing box containing things that help to calm you, which is ready for you to grab in an anxious moment. It could include a favourite scented candle, a favourite snack, calming quotes written down that you can read, such as ‘I will be okay’ or ‘I can get through this’. You could include something soft to stroke and hold, like a soft piece of fabric or a teddy. You could even put a special blanket in your box to use to cuddle yourself up in; this will help you to feel safe and contained.

Separation Anxiety

Another type of anxiety is known as ‘Separation Anxiety’. Being distressed when separating from a parent or carer is usual behaviour for infants and very young children and is known as separation anxiety. It develops at the age of about 6 months and can last until about the age of three or four. However, for some children, this can persist for much longer, and can become an ongoing concern. We are finding that lately there are more and more children who are suffering from separation anxiety than ever before.

But why is this happening?

  • Throughout the pandemic, children may have experienced more fear and anxiety in the household. They may have experienced their parents or carers not being okay and not being as robust as usual. This will in turn have had an effect on their sense of safety in the world and they may fear that they, and you, won’t be okay when you are apart from each other.
  • They may have even experienced the death of a loved one and because of this, there may a fear that they will also lose you.
  • There may be an underlying anxiety that once you leave them in the morning, that you won’t think about them, and they will be forgotten.
  • Sometimes, separation anxiety can be triggered by other stressful events, such as the loss of a beloved pet, divorce of parents, or moving home or school.
  • Sometimes, parents themselves may be anxious about leaving their child, perhaps struggling with the feeling that they won’t be okay without you. Try to remember to have faith in your parenting skills and that if you have provided your child with a good foundation, you will have given them enough to separate and become autonomous.

Some tips and techniques if your child is struggling to separate

  • When you bring your child to school, let them know that you will be thinking of them and holding them in mind throughout the day.
  • Let them take something of yours into school to ‘look after’ for you. They could keep it in their bag, but just to know it’s there might offer them some comfort and a feeling of being close to you.
  • Talk about what you will do together later when school is finished.
  • Create goodbye rituals, for example three kisses and a cuddle. Don’t extend your goodbyes as this prolongs the anxiety and worry.
  • Be consistent, try to do the same drop off with the same rituals at the same time each day. Routine can allow your child to build up trust in their independence.
  • Talk to your child in a warm, positive voice. Let them know what will happen when you are not there and remind them of all the fun things that they will do at school. Your positive tone will send reassuring messages to your child.
  • Aim to always return when you say you will.
  • Perhaps there is a beloved teddy or blanket of theirs, that they could take with them during separations, to help ease their anxiety.
  • Help your child to build up tolerance to being away from you, for example take them on a playdate whilst you sit in another room.

How to promote autonomy and resilience in your child.

Encouraging your child to develop a healthy sense of autonomy and resilience, will help them to eventually grow into a confident, independent adult. Parents who support the development of autonomy, are involved in their child’s life, but at the same time are encouraging their independence and problem-solving skills. Here are some suggestions of ways to support your growing child’s autonomy and independence.

  • Give your children the security, space, and support to try out new things. Try to encourage your child to take their own initiative with tasks etc, rather than doing things for them. This will help them to build up trust in their own abilities.
  • While parents may want their children to embrace the same values as they hold, or live in the same way that they do, it is important to recognise that they are unique individuals with their own thoughts and opinions.
  • Any perceived ‘failures’ could also be reframed as ‘life’s lessons’ or as new challenges to overcome.
  • Give your child responsibilities for specific activities, for example, feeding the family pet or hoovering their bedroom. This is showing your child that you trust them, which in turn will enable them to have more trust in themselves and their own abilities.
  • Validating your child’s feelings and viewpoints.
  • Try to adopt a more collaborative parenting style. When we control too much, it is harder for children to develop greater autonomy and independence.
  • Allow our children and adolescents to make their own choices.
  • Whilst it is challenging to ‘rescue’ our children when they come across a challenge, it is better to perhaps think through ideas together, and maybe list possible solutions. Then offering guidance when required, but at the same time encouraging the young person to problem solve independently.


Resources to help

Connecting with your child, giving them an opportunity to talk and be listened to, is important for their sense of wellbeing and can help them voice their worries or anxieties.

If you feel that your child needs more support to help them with their anxiety, please visit our page Support for Families. This explains how we offer 1:1 counselling sessions for children and young people and will signpost you to someone who can help.

Mindfulness for relaxation

Meditation, yoga and breathing techniques all help to calm us when we are feeling anxious - visit our Mindfulness Resources webpage and give some of our suggestions a go.

Contact us

Remember - you won’t have all the answers – no one has – but it will help your child to know that you are there for them; this in itself will help to contain your child’s fears and anxieties.

If you are concerned that you are unable to calm your child’s worries, talk to us – we are here to help: email Catherine here.

Children’s Mental Health Week takes place every February and the theme for 2024 is ‘My Voice Matters’.

At BCCS we pride ourselves on being the advocate for children and young people, and we work to empower them to recognise, value and champion their own voice, both internal and external. 

We know that a lot of children’s internal (inner) voice can be critical and disparaging: we don’t want this to be the case, and it is often easily rectified. 

To do that, we have to show that their voice matters to us, before it can to them.

Children need supporting to connect with this, and to feel they are valued and heard in doing so.  

To support both schools and parents/carers in doing this, we have prepared a few prompts to help you show children that you’re really listening.  We hope you enjoy them.

For ideas for parents and carers please click here.

For classroom activity ideas, please click here.

These resources can be used at any time, not just during Children's Mental Health Week. Why not give them a go?