Skip to main content

See also:

Anxiety in Children

Some children battle with social anxiety.
Some children battle with social anxiety.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

It is normal for a child to have a certain amount of anxiety as part of their healthy development. As a child grows they may experience a fear of the dark, separation anxiety, a fear of strangers, a fear of loud noises and a fear of storms these are all very common types of anxiety that children may possibly experience as they grow and mature. Some children experience separation anxiety which is a fear of being separated from their parent or caretaker. Some children develop tenacious worrying to the point that they develop panic attacks. They may refuse to go to school/childcare, they might throw a huge temper tantrum, and they can become extremely clingy to their parent or caregiver. Some children are terrified of being a way from their parent or caregiver for even a brief moment. Even just the anticipation of being separated can bring on extreme stress and cause the child to have feelings of vulnerability. Some children with severe separation anxiety find it difficult to sleep alone because they are separated during the night time hours. The children with night time anxiety often have repeated nightmares and complain of headaches and/or stomach aches that are resulted from their anxiety. Children who deal with generalized anxiety experience extreme, improbable worry and fear about everyday things. They frequently anticipate tragedy. The tension and stress is long-lasting and incapacitating, affecting numerous areas of the child’s life. Getting through the day can be a fight. Some children may recognize that their anxiety is extravagant however they still have great difficulty controlling and managing their anxiety. They may also experience restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, edginess, muscle tension, fatigue, difficulty swallowing, a need for frequent urination, stomach aches; and difficulty sleeping associated with their anxiety. Some children with extreme anxiety may startle easily and just can’t seem to relax. A child can develop phobias or continual, unreasonable and extreme fears about a particular thing or circumstance. The phobia causes the child to avoid the item, activity, or situation with all of their efforts. If they are unable to avoid it then they painfully endured it. Particular phobias effect in terrifying internal distress along with feelings of looming danger or doom, the need to escape, heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath or even a feeling of being smothered as though one can’t breathe, chest pains, dizziness, a fear of losing control and going out of their mind or of dying. Children with social anxiety worry about being analyzed and destructively judged. They are fearful of embarrassment and teasing in social situations. At school they may find it difficult to answer questions in class, read aloud, initiate conversations, talking with people they do not know, and attending social activities. They feel powerless in controlling their anxiety and tend to have only a few social relationships, which results them into even more isolation, lonesomeness, and a feeling of being different from everyone else. Some children can experience panic attacks when they are feeling intense fear. The panic attack can start suddenly and can intensify to the extreme of terrifying thoughts of impending disaster when there truly is no danger. The panic attacks are unexpected and can sometime occur while the child is asleep and the attacks can become recurrent. The attacks are very intense that while the child is panicking during their attack they become preoccupied about the fear of the anticipation of the attacks. The child may also experience shortness of breath, choking or smothering sensations, pounding heartbeat, chest pain, nausea, lightheadedness, trembling and shaking, and fear of losing their mind. If you have concerns or questions about possible symptoms of anxiety in your child, be sure to talk with your pediatrician or mental health professional. Early intervention and treatment can make a world of difference for your child and can prevent further complications around the anxiety. As a parent, it is important to be aware of some of the ways severe anxiety can show up in children. With increased awareness, you’ll be able to intervene early and get help.