facebook pixel How to Recognize and Manage Anxiety in Children
Site Search
< Blog Home < Healthy Living

How to Recognize and Manage Anxiety in Children

Don’t be anxious about your child’s anxiousness. Here are ways to teach kids how to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

Teacher and child, how to deal with anxiety in children

Am I too emotional? Is that person following me home from school? What if my mom or brother gets hurt, or I get hurt? I hope my teacher doesn’t call on me in front of the class. What if my friends don’t like me anymore?

These are normal worries a lot of children have. But when they ask these questions repeatedly, have outbursts of emotions, or even get shy around other people, when should you consider if they’re experiencing intense anxiety? How can you teach them how to cope with their emotions?

How many children does anxiety affect?

Researchers recently found that about 7% of children in the U.S., ages 3 to 17, have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Though it seems low, this percentage represents approximately 4.4 million kids throughout America, and that number continues to rise.
Everyone’s anxiety manifests for different reasons and in a variety of ways, but signs of anxiety may be common among many children.

What are causes and types of anxiety in children?

Childhood and adolescence present many “firsts” of life: the first time away from home, the first broken bone, the first time dealing with interpersonal conflict. These new, uncharted experiences can often call for powerful emotional responses within the mind and body.

Other times, children experience emotional, physical, or mental forms of trauma or abuse. As a result of these experiences, youths will form anxieties to try and protect themselves from feeling such strong pain as they once did.

As kids face unfamiliar or challenging emotions, anxiety manifests and alerts them that perceived danger is present—that they need to fight or flee.

Regardless of the source of their worries, children face many forms of anxiety—the same disorders we as adults may experience, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social or generalized anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Help Your Child Deal with Bullying

How can I know if my child is struggling with anxiety?

Subtly monitoring children’s behavior and responses to various situations may help you know if they’re experiencing anxiety. Watch for patterns of extreme shifts in mood, frequent or repetitive expression of fears, or demonstration of compulsions like frequently checking for reassurance or unbreakable and precise routines.

You may also notice children become quiet and unexpressive around other kids or adults, and later become lively and personable when in familiar environments.

How can I teach my child how to manage anxiety?

There are many ways to cope. If your child repetitively washes his or her hands, is anxious about going to school every day, or constantly worries about a potential natural disaster, consider the following ideas and tools to help them manage their anxiety:

• Practice deep breathing techniques together to help reduce anxiety levels.

• Anxiety may appear from lack of preparation, or even too much preparation for school and other activities. Help your child find the balance that works well for him or her.

• Consider creative ways to express emotions, like drawing, sculpting clay, building with blocks, playing an instrument, exercising, or daily journaling.

• Encourage your child to take the first and last 10 minutes of each day to quietly reflect and practice mindfulness without any external stimulation.

• Communicate often. Build trust and remind your child that he or she can share any experience or fear they have without judgment.

• If you think professional help is needed, don’t be afraid to find a local therapist or school counselor who can meet with your child one-on-one or in a group setting.

Struggling with anxiety can be challenging—especially for children. But with the right support and coping mechanisms, you can help the children in your life learn how to manage their anxiety and allow space for healthy development into adulthood.

Related: Helping Kids Develop Healthy Habits

SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

You May Also Like...

Healthcare and Insurance Basics

Preventive Care for Men and Women: Cancer Screenings [Infographic]

Preventive care can help you gauge your current health status and find out ways to protect it now and in the future. Follow these recommendations for getting screened for cancer.

Nutrition and Diet

Baked Spinach and Mushroom Quesadilla

An easy meal to make for your family, and your kids will never know they are packed with nutrients!

In the Community

Is Your Organization Keeping Utah Healthy? Apply for Our Award

Each year, we recognize 20 organizations that are making a healthy difference in Utah to help support their missions.


How Our Mission Differentiates Us from Our Competitors

Here’s a look at how our mission helps our products differ from our competitors, how we educate consumers about their plan options, and how our team is involved in local communities.

Contenido Español

Consejos para preparar un depósito de alimentos y qué tener en su despensa

Cocinar en casa no tiene que ser complicado.

Related Articles

Related Articles

Healthy Living

Use This Packing List for Camping That Even Glampers Would Appreciate

Next time you plan on adventuring and sleeping in the great outdoors, here are the basics we recommend taking with you. Even glampers will approve.

Healthy Living

Simple Ways to Pamper Your Tired Feet

Are your feet always sore after a long day? We’ve got a few cheap and easy tricks to pamper them at the end of a grueling day.

Healthy Living

Why I Love Cross Stitching

Cross stitching is seeing a major resurgence—here’s why it’s so fulfilling and why you should consider this hobby to spice up your life.

Healthy Living

Make Someone’s Day with a Random Act of Kindness

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Remember how good it made you feel? Pay it forward to someone else by doing something that will put a smile on their face.

Post Author

Jeff Herbert
Jeff is a native of Northern Utah and currently works in healthcare marketing and communications. He is a fanatic of graphic design, music, and baby animals. Jeff also enjoys making memories with family and friends.