Anxiety Symptoms In Children

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 19, 2021

anxiety symptoms in children

Anxiety can affect all genders and age groups, including children.

While anxiety symptoms are similar for all people, there are some important differences from person to person and age group to age group.

This “Anxiety Symptoms In Children” article explains these differences and how you can use this information to reduce anxiety symptoms in children.

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety can create many physiological, psychological, and emotional symptoms including:

To name a few. For a comprehensive list of anxiety symptoms, visit our Anxiety Disorders Symptoms and Signs article.

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Anxiety Symptoms In Children

Yes, children can have anxiety issues.[1] I (Jim Folk) remember having strong anxiety and panic attacks at the age of 7. At that time, I just felt “sick in the stomach” and an overwhelming sense of doom, which my parents labeled as the stomach flu. But as my anxiety grew worse over time and peaked at age 23, it became clear my “stomach flu” episodes were anxiety.

According to a national survey in 2010, 32 percent of adolescents in the United States have an anxiety disorder.[2] Sadly, "The majority of children with anxiety never receive treatment," says Golda Ginsburg, PhD, a psychologist and professor at the University of Connecticut Health.

Research shows that girls tend to be more susceptible to anxiety than boys.[1] Among children, separation anxiety, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety disorder are the most common.[3]

Since young children can’t clearly articulate what they are feeling, anxiety symptoms often appear as:

  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Crying episodes
  • Shyness
  • Overly fearful of normal activities
  • Rashes
  • Overly emotional
  • Overly nervous
  • Avoidance of places and activities
  • Overly concerned about normal activities
  • Overly concerned about people
  • Anxiety associated with going to school
  • Anxiety associated with making and keeping friends
  • Evidence of low self-esteem
  • Perfectionism
  • Frustration
  • Clinging to parents when in social situations
  • Heightened phobias about the dark, dogs, spiders, bees, wasps, ants, snakes, etc.
  • Irrational and excessive fear
  • Feeling persistent tension
  • Behavioral problems at school
  • Poor concentration problems
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Chronic fatigue

In addition to the above symptoms, children can also experience any of the symptoms on our anxiety signs and symptoms list.

While there are a number of factors, anxious parents seem to be the most common cause of childhood anxiety.[3] Research shows that children who grow up with anxious parents have a higher likelihood of developing anxiety disorder than those who don't.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Anxiety Symptoms In Children.

References

1. Wehry, Anna, et al. "Assessment and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents." Current Psychiatry Reports, July 2015.

2. Merikangas, Kathleen, et al. "Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in US Adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A)." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31 July 2010.

3. Weir, Kristina. “Brighter Futures for Anxious Kids.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Mar. 2017.