Sunday 24 June 2018

One in five primary school children in Ireland experience anxiety, their parents say

One in ten parents describe their child’s emotional health as “poor” or “fair”. (stock photo)
One in ten parents describe their child’s emotional health as “poor” or “fair”. (stock photo)
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

One in five primary school children in Ireland experience general anxiety, according to their parents, and one in four experience “low moods”.

One in ten parents describe their child’s emotional health as “poor” or “fair”.

The top five common issues that cause their children to stress are:

1. Being left out of friendship groups (39pc)

2. Pressure of school work (33pc)

3. Not “fitting in” (20pc)

4. Fighting with siblings (18pc)

5. General feeling of being overwhelmed (16pc)

According to new research by Super Troopers with laya healthcare, children under 12 years of age are spending more than 23 hours a week in front of screens

And the majority of primary school parents (91pc) want mental health first-aid training to be provided to teachers in primary schools.

According to parents, half of all primary school children own their own tablet and more than a quarter have their own mobile phone. The children under 12 years are spending twice as much time viewing screens than playing outside: 23 hours screen time versus 11 hours a week outside.

Super Troopers is a free programme for young students an encourages families to treat health and wellbeing with the same importance as traditional homework. It involves fun, short-burst activities that prompt children to get moving for at least 10-15 minutes at a time, building towards the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

The programme also includes mindfulness challenges and expert tips on looking after overall health, such as the importance of getting enough sleep and drinking enough water, along with guidelines on healthy eating.

Wellness expert Ann-Marie Ireland, who authored the mindfulness exercises used in Super Troopers, says that mindfulness can successfully address anxiety and behavioural issues.

“Spending just a few minutes each day on simple mindfulness exercises can positively transform children, allowing them space and time to be calm, quiet and to be ‘present in the moment’," Ms Ireland said.

"Families and schools have really embraced Super Troopers, the Programme provides a holistic approach to helping children be more fit and healthy in body and mind and I encourage every school to take part.”

For more information, see supertroopers.ie.

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