Anxiety is a normal part of life and can affect anyone, including children. But as parents and carers, it’s sometimes hard to know the difference between normal worries and something more serious.
Anxiety during childhood
Anxiety is a normal part of childhood. In most cases, anxiety in children is short-lived and goes away after a while. Some examples of normal worries might be:
- being shy or being worrying about being laughed at
- being upset before and/or after being left at childcare or school
- worrying about schoolwork, sport or their health
But many children experience anxiety more intensely and more often than other children, stopping them from getting the most out of life.
Signs of anxiety in children
If a child is often anxious, they might:
- try to avoid the situation or issue they’re worried about
- get headaches and stomach aches often, especially when away from home
- have trouble sleeping or have vivid nightmares
- worry often
- need a lot of reassurance
- want things to be perfect and get upset if they’re not
Supporting children with anxiety
You can support your child by:
- acknowledging your child’s fears – don’t dismiss or ignore them
- gently encouraging your child to do things they’re anxious about
- waiting until your child actually gets anxious before you step in to help
- praising your child for doing something they’re anxious about
- avoiding labelling your child as ‘shy’ or ‘anxious’
Treating anxiety in children
Kids’ mental health is important. If you’re concerned, see your doctor, a psychologist or a mental health service. Some children have an anxiety disorder, such as:
- a phobia
- generalised anxiety disorder
- separation anxiety.
Children who have severe anxiety can benefit from psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or, in rare cases, medication.
You can also get professional support from:
- your child’s school counsellor
- your child’s GP or paediatrician
- Anxiety Recover Centre Victoria
- Raising Children Network
Where to get help
Helping your child overcome anxiety issues is easier if you seek help. Talk to your doctor, (search for a doctor in your region), or see below for online programs, tools and information that can help.
- Raising Children Network has information about generalised anxiety in children.
- Understanding anxiety provides information on anxiety in children.
- The Brave Program provides a way for kids to learn about how to cope with their worries.