It is typical for children and teens to show signs of anxiety at times.  In many cases, anxiety will come and go through childhood and won’t last long. Some common anxiety triggers in childhood include:

  • Strangers and separation, especially in babies and toddlers

  • The dark and being alone

  • Supernatural things (like ghosts)

  • New situations (e.g., starting school, meeting new people)

  • Situations where your child needs to perform (e.g., concerts, talks, tests, competitive sport)

  • Exposure to physical harm or threat (e.g., fire, natural disasters, dangerous animals)

Typically, with acknowledgement and support from parents, children can learn to face their anxieties and with experience, the anxiety lessens or come and goes without impacting your child’s day-to-day living.

Sometimes, however, a child or teen’s level of anxiety is a concern and parents may wish to seek professional help. Possible signs that your child or teen may need some extra support from a psychologist include:

  • Your child is struggling to get to or stay asleep at night

  • Your child is worrying about lots of different things

  • Your child’s anxiety is stopping them from doing things that they want to do, or need to do as part of daily life (such as going to school). For example, if your child is afraid of clowns and doesn’t want to go to the circus, then avoiding circuses is not likely to significantly impact their functioning or happiness. If, however, your child is afraid of clowns to the point that they have stopped wanting to go out places (e.g., movies, theme parks, shopping centres etc.) to avoid coming across potential clowns either in person or on the screen, then your child’s fear is likely to be impacting their life and seeking professional help may be the answer.

  • Your child complains of frequent stomach aches, headaches, neck aches, nausea, without a physical cause

  • Your child’s reaction to a situation appears excessive and they are very distressed

 

You know your child best and if you have any concerns with your child’s level of anxiety, seeking some professional advice is the best way to support your child.

Anxiety can present in different ways and sometimes it is does not always look how we expect. Anxiety can be a contributor to the following:

  • Withdrawn behaviour (e.g., wanting to be alone, not wanting to socialise)

  • Irritable or aggressive behaviour. When some children are anxious, the extra tension in their body can translate to irritableness or aggression. If certain buttons are pushed, your child may explode in a tantrum or snap at you

  • Lots of questions to parents and caregivers. Many children are inquisitive and will have lots of questions about the world around them. If you notice a sudden increase in the volume or intensity of questions posed to you about a situation, then it may be a sign that your child is feeling anxious

  • Defiant behaviour. Sometimes, children engage in what may appear to be defiant or oppositional behaviour as a way of avoiding their anxiety

  • Physical complaints such as sore tummies, feeling sick or dizzy often accompany anxiety

There are many different types of anxiety. Your child may worry about lots of things, or one specific situation. Commonly diagnosed types of anxiety include:

  • Generalised Anxiety (worrying about lots of different situations, real or imagined)

  • Social Anxiety (worrying about social situations)

  • Separation Anxiety (worrying being separated from parents or caregivers)

  • Specific Phobia (such as a fear of dogs, heights, vomiting etc.)

A psychologist at Mind and Seek can help you and your child or teen learn how to cope with anxiety. Please make an appointment with one of our psychologists to find out more about anxiety and how best to support your child or teen.

Anxiety and

Stress