Anxiety in Children

Fearful and anxious behavior is common in children – especially as they come across new situations and experiences. Most children learn to cope with different fears and worries.

Kids experiencing anxiety may come up with their own strategies to try and manage distressing situations. This often involves trying to avoid the situation or having a parent or other adult deal with it for them.

Anxiety can result in physical symptoms such as sleeplessness, diarrhea, stomach aches and headaches (sometimes referred to as somatic complaints). Other symptoms may include irritability, difficulty concentrating and tiredness.

Most common types are :

Phobia: Phobia is diagnosed when particular objects, situations or events such as injections, spiders or heights bring about intense fear and avoidance, even though the real threat of harm is small.

Social Phobia: Social phobia refers to extreme levels of shyness and fears of being seen in a negative light. Children with social phobia avoid social interactions such as talking to new people, speaking up in class or performing in public. They may be highly self-conscious and have difficulty forming friendships.

Generalised Anxiety disorder: Generalised anxiety disorder is diagnosed when kids have excessive and unrealistic worries about a broad range of possibilities. They may worry about things that might happen, about their own past behavior, how good they are at their schoolwork or how popular they are. They often lack confidence and need a lot of reassurance.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop following a traumatic event such as being in a serious accident, experiencing a life-threatening event or witnessing extreme violence. Symptoms include changes in sleep patterns, irritability, and problems with concentration. Kids with PTSD may experience mental flashbacks and feel like they’re ‘reliving’ the event. They may express or recreate the traumatic event through drawing or playing.

Separation Anxiety disorder: Separation anxiety relates to children’s fear and distress at being away from their main caregivers. Young children can lack the ability to understand why their caregiver has left and when they’ll return. Older kids often fear that something bad will happen to a loved one while they’re separated.

Children with anxiety difficulties tend to lack confidence in their abilities and feel overwhelmed easily. They are also driven to avoid the things that cause them anxiety, and in doing so, don’t get the chance to learn that what they fear will usually not happen. You can help by working on coping and problem-solving skills together.


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