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  • Writer's pictureEli Felt, Ph.D.

Identifying Childhood Anxiety: Recognizing Signs and Supporting Your Child

Childhood anxiety is a prevalent concern that can significantly impact a child's well-being and development. As parents, it is essential to be vigilant and proactive in detecting the signs of anxiety in your child. By recognizing these indicators early on, you can provide the necessary support and help them navigate their anxiety more effectively. Additionally, it is fairly typical for anxiety to get worse if left untreated. Below are some signs that may indicate your child is experiencing anxiety.


  1. Behavioral Changes: Pay attention to any sudden or persistent changes in your child's behavior. This can include excessive clinginess, withdrawal from activities, irritability, or difficulty concentrating. Unexplained physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches can also be signs of underlying anxiety.

  2. Sleep Disturbances: Anxiety can disrupt sleep patterns. Keep an eye out for frequent nightmares, difficulty falling asleep, or restlessness during the night. Your child may also express fear or reluctance to sleep alone.

  3. Excessive Worrying: Notice if your child displays excessive worry or fear about everyday activities or upcoming events. They may constantly seek reassurance or become overwhelmed by situations that typically wouldn't bother them.

  4. Avoidance: Children with anxiety may try to avoid situations or places that trigger their fear or discomfort. This can include social interactions, school activities, or public places. Watch for patterns of avoidance in your child's behavior.

  5. Physical Symptoms: Anxiety often manifests physically. Look for signs such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, or dizziness. These symptoms can occur even without an apparent physical cause.

As a parent, there are several ways you can support your child:

  • Foster open communication and create a safe space for them to express their emotions.

  • Validate their feelings and let them know it's okay to be anxious.

  • Reduce parental accommodations (watch my lecture on this).

  • Seek professional help if the anxiety persists or significantly impacts your child's daily life. A qualified therapist can provide guidance and develop a tailored treatment plan.

Recognizing the signs of anxiety in your child is crucial for early intervention and support. By closely observing their behavior, sleep patterns, worrying tendencies, avoidance patterns, and physical symptoms, you can provide the necessary assistance to help them manage their anxiety effectively. Remember, as a parent, you play a vital role in creating a nurturing environment and seeking professional help when needed, enabling your child to navigate their anxiety and thrive.

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