Anxiety in Kids

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a NORMAL worry or uneasy feeling that causes kids to feel nervous and afraid. It can generate real and uncomfortable physical responses. Anxiety is often triggered by new situations which makes it very common in children. For some children, anxiety affects their behavior and thoughts daily, which can interfere with their home life, school, and their social well-being. For these children, professional help is often the best answer.

Use these tips to help you spot anxiety in your child and help them to learn skills to cope with their anxiety now and in the future.

How Anxiety Feels to Kids

Anxiety can be a confusing and scary feeling for kids, especially if they have never experienced these emotions and physiological effects before and don’t have a name for the way they are feeling. Even once a child knows that they have anxiety and the signs and symptoms they may experience when they become anxious, they may feel embarrassed or ashamed. The physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety can present in a variety of different ways in your child. Look for these common signs.

How Anxiety Shows Up in Kids

If your child is experiencing anxiety, they may begin to act differently. For some kids this may mean that they are acting out and becoming more difficult and defiant, but for other children it might mean that they begin to withdraw from social situations or even their families. It is important to remember that when it comes to anxiety in kids it is not a one size fits all situation. You know your child’s normal behavior better than anyone else, and the best person to determine if their behavior has suddenly or drastically changed. These are a few common signs that are associated with anxiety in kids.

Common Anxiety Triggers for Kids

Since anxiety is often triggered by new situations your child may experience a bout of anxiety occasionally, when something in their life feels different or beyond their control. There are several common triggers for anxiety in kids which range from social factors, or pressure to perform well, to fear of change or the future, and even conflict or change at home. Your child may be experiencing anxiety due to a variety of different things. Below are just a few examples of common anxiety triggers for kids.

Teach Your Child What They Can & Cannot Control

It can be very helpful to remind your child which things they are feeling anxious about are within their control, and which are not. You may find that much of what your child is anxious about are things they can’t control. So it’s important to teach them the difference between what they can and cannot control, so that they have a better understanding of their own anxieties. It can be helpful for kids with anxiety to have a list that they can refer to that explains these different behaviors. You can use the list below as a starting point and tailor it to your child’s specific anxiety triggers for a helpful guide they can refer to as often as they may need.

Grounding Techniques for Kids

The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding technique is helpful both for adults and kids with anxiety as it helps connect the anxious party with the present by exploring the five senses and their immediate surroundings. This technique is especially helpful if the cause of their anxiety is something that already happened or may happen in the future. If the child is currently in the midst of their anxiety trigger the grounding technique may be a bit difficult for them to accomplish, but is still worth an attempt as long as it can be practiced safely. When your child is feeling anxious encourage them to complete the following grounding exercise and see if it helps bring them back to a point of relative calmness. The convenience of being able to perform this technique in almost any location is just one of the many reasons it is so beneficial to learn and remember.

While all children are likely to experience some anxiety in their life on occasion, it is important to recognize if your child’s anxiety has become severe enough to impact their daily lives. If this is the case seeing a pediatric behavioral health therapist may be in your child’s best interest as they can provide more individualistic approaches to help mitigate the causes and symptoms that your child is experiencing. They will also be able to help you and your child understand where the anxiety is coming from and tips, tricks, and tools to help reduce the anxiety your child feels.

If you are interested in learning more about how Schreiber’s Pediatric Behavioral Health Services can help your child visit

As a nationally recognized pediatric facility, the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development provides family-centered education and therapy programs for infants, children and adolescents with disabilities, developmental delays, and acquired injuries. Our goal-oriented approach maximizes each child’s ability to function independently within the community.