Anxiety seems to be a growing issue among primary-age children. So what can schools do to help? Dr Stephanie Thornton considers the evidence and looks at three ways we might support pupils and build their resilience
Image: Adobe Stock

Stress and anxiety in our children are the top mental health issues worrying callers to ChildLine and teachers alike (see Headteacher Update, 2023). The general consensus is that anxiety is common and rising in our young, and even in the very young (Thornton, 2024).


Estimating the significance and scale of the problem

Often assumed to be a teenage issue, anxiety in young children is under-researched, under-recognised, and under-treated (Creswell et al, 2020).

Anxiety is noxious in itself, disruptive of social, emotional, and academic development – and anxiety in early childhood is also strongly predictive of later mental health problems (Bittner et al 2007; Finlay-Jones et al, 2024). Expert opinion increasingly suggests that addressing anxiety effectively in the primary school range is not only important for the anxious child, but that early intervention can mitigate mental health problems in adolescence and beyond (Creswell et al, 2020; Luby et al, 2020).

Register now, read forever

Thank you for visiting Headteacher Update and reading some of our content for professionals in primary education. Register now for free to get unlimited access to all content.

What's included:

  • Unlimited access to news, best practice articles and podcasts

  • New content and e-bulletins delivered straight to your inbox every Monday


Already have an account? Sign in here