How Can I Tell if My Child is Having Some Problems with Anxiety?

All children can feel anxious at times, and it is completely normal for children to have to grapple with these feelings from time to time. When we worry about things, whether we are adults or children, it is often because the thing we are worried about means a lot to us, or perhaps we feel we don’t have control over the outcome of something, or perhaps our brains tend to err on the side of caution and worry that the ‘worst case scenario’ may happen in a situation. This commonly presents as lots of “what if’ worrying. For example, “what if a robber breaks in to our house?”

When a child feels anxious about something, they usually experience worry thoughts accompanied by differing degrees of physical sensations, such as butterflies in their stomach. Children display a variety of different behaviours which may indicate to you that your child may be experiencing some anxiety.

Here are the 10 most common symptoms we see in children who are experiencing more frequent worry and anxiety.


10 Common Symptoms That May Signal Child Anxiety:

  1. Uncontrollable worry & a tendency to be fearful of lots of things
  2. Resists trying new things or going to new places
  3. Complains of reoccurring sore stomachs, headaches, feeling sick, butterflies in stomach, without any medical basis for symptoms
  4. Needs a parent present to fall asleep
  5. Difficulties falling to sleep or staying asleep
  6. Refusing to go to school, school camps, or sleepovers
  7. Gets very distressed when separating from parents
  8. Strongly dislikes making mistakes, likes things “just so”
  9. Have consistently high standards for themselves
  10. Seeks excessive reassurance

To find out more about what child anxiety is and when to seek professional help, see our Child Anxiety Clinic page, or browse through some of our anxiety blogs.


Written By Shannyn Wilson, Psychologist at SW Psychology.