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4 min read

Is my child anxious? Childhood Anxiety Signs and Symptoms

Key Takeaways:

  • Childhood anxiety can be a distressing experience for your child, and has the potential to hinder development.
  • There are hundreds of reasons why your child may be anxious. Some include academic reasons, genetic predisposition, and home life concerns.
  • Therapy, including play therapy and talk therapy, may be able to reduce distress and improve symptoms.

It's natural, as a parent, to worry about your child.

You may feel as though you are single-handedly responsible for the way your child "turns out."

Are they happy? Are they healthy? Are they making friends? Do they have the tools they need to succeed?

The last thing any parent wants is for their child to be anxious. If they're anxious, doesn't that mean you've done something wrong?

Of course not. Children can become anxious for any number of reasons, from academic anxiety to social anxiety. While you may feel single-handedly responsible for your child's mental health, the simple truth of the matter is that external factors and even brain chemistry can cause or contribute to anxiety in children.

If you think your child may be anxious, the best thing you can do is get them professional help and continue to be a source of love and support for them.

Let's go over the signs, symptoms, and common causes of childhood anxiety, as well as what we can do as parents to help reduce our children's distress.

Childhood Anxiety Resources on This Page:

What are the symptoms of child anxiety?

Why is my child anxious?

How do I help my anxious child?

Where To Find Help for Child Anxiety in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

What are the symptoms of child anxiety?

Children often have a hard time explaining their emotions with the same depth and accuracy that adults can.

Additionally, teenagers tend to hide their emotions from parents, particularly when those feelings are "embarassing" or sensitive.

As such, part of a parent's job is to watch for the signs and symptoms of childhood anxiety, so that they can intervene if necessary, even when their child says they're fine or can't expand on how they are feeling.

Some of the most common symptoms of childhood anxiety include:

  • Quick and severe irritability
  • Abnormal levels of clinginess
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Academic issues; dropping grades
  • Fidgeting
  • Excessive trips to the bathroom

While there are other symptoms of child anxiety disorders, and these symptoms don't always indicate anxiety, exhibiting one or more of them can be a sign that your child is anxious.

An important thing to remember here is that children are not solely influenced by their parents. Your child's anxiety is not necessarily the result of something you're doing (though, of course, it could be!)

Why is my child anxious?

Chances are good that a number of factors contribute to your child's anxiety. Anxiety caused by one (non-traumatic) thing is often called circumstantial anxiety, and it's highly curable. Remove the trigger, and the anxiety usually resolves either on its own or with therapy.

However, more complex anxiety - such as that caused by multiple factors or a traumatic experience - can be chronic and have detrimental effects on your child's life and development.

The process of reducing anxiety in children starts with understanding what may be contributing to the anxiety.


School is one of the biggest parts of a child's life. In an increasingly competitive world, too, many schools are getting tougher and more rigorous, trying to prepare their students for the workforce.

Unfortunately, the increased rigor can contribute to anxiety in children. Excessive homework, needlessly long tests, and increasingly difficult material can often overwhelm a child, especially when they are in the process of learning about the world at large.

Social Anxiety and Friends

Another big part of child development is learning how to be an effective socializer.

As we all know, children can be cruel. Bullying and exclusion can certainly contribute to your child's anxiety. If you suspect your child is being bullied, it's crucial that you talk to school administrators and a mental health provider about it as soon as possible.

Social anxiety is a form of anxiety wherein a person, in this case a child, feels intense fear and nervousness surrounding new social situations. Children, in the process of making friends and socializing, can develop social anxiety - even if there is no attributable situation causing it.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

Family Life

Children sometimes develop anxiety surrounding their lives at home. Pressure from parents or fights with siblings can make a child feel alone.

Note that, even if your therapist suggests that something happening at home is contributing to their anxiety, it does not mean you are a bad parent. Even with the best intentions, it's unrealistic to expect parents to be perfect.

Work with your child's therapist to determine how home life can change in a way that helps your child.

Brain Chemistry

Some children are simply born with a genetic predisposition to anxiety. If this is the case, medication and therapy can help.

Your child's therapist may refer you to a child psychiatrist, who may suggest prescription SSRIs and other anxiety medications. Child psychiatrists are trained to ensure that your child only receives medications in types and dosages that are both safe and necessary.

How do I help my anxious child?

If you think your child may be anxious, there are two things you should do right now:

  1. Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to talk about the symptoms and enroll your child in therapy.
  2. Contact school administrators to explore potential academic causes and discuss the possibility of accommodations, if necessary.

Once you're in touch with a therapist, continue to be a source of support for your child. Addressing anxiety, for children who desperately want independence can often feel embarrassing. Let them know that what they are feeling is valid, and that you both respect their space and are there to listen and offer advice and love, should they so desire it.

Where To Find Help for Child Anxiety in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you suspect that your child has anxiety, it's important to get professional help.

For Brooklyn parents, Williamsburg Therapy Group has been a staple of child mental health for nearly a decade.

With a team of dedicated, doctoral-level child therapists, and a child psychiatry arm to boot, we're ready to support your child's health, happiness, and development.

Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will connect you with the right therapist for your child.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

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