Children are experiencing “widespread anxiety” over the threat of terrorism and Donald Trump’s presidency, a new survey from the Mental Health Foundation has found.
In a bid to try and find out the impact world events were having on children, the charity asked 1,800 parents with children aged five to 18 what they thought their sons and daughters were anxious about.
More than a third of parents (41 per cent) listed the threat of terrorism, while 33 per cent said Donald Trump and his administration.
A third of parents (32 per cent) also thought their children were anxious about global warming and climate change, while almost a quarter (23 per cent) said it was the threat of nuclear war.
Of those who said their children were anxious, six in ten parents (61 per cent) said their children had started asking a lot more questions about world events, while a quarter (24 per cent) said they had noticed their children seeking more reassurance.
One in ten parents (13 per cent) said their children had gone as far as asking whether to avoid using public transport or going to busy public places, while 8 per cent said their children and had nightmares about world events.
The survey, conducted by YouGov, found that overall almost four in ten (39 per cent) were concerned that their children were becoming more anxious about global events.
Dr Camilla Rosan, a child psychology expert for the Mental Health Foundation, said the impact world events can have on children were often forgotten.
“This is especially true in the digital age where it’s no longer possible to shield our children from worrying or scary news,” she added.
“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 OK 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 response, the Mental Health Foundation has released a guide on how parents can talk to their children about “scary world news”.
It advises them to let children know the facts, let them know they are safe, and let them know it is normal to be concerned.
Overexposure to the news is discouraged, but on the other hand a complete news blackout is said to be “rarely helpful”.
Finding the right time to talk about the news event is key, with the conversation tailored to the age of the child.
Space for questions and repetition is also encouraged, with parents urged to be as truthful as possible.