Anxiety in Children


by New Day Producers

Posted on May 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Updated Friday, May 27 at 11:17 AM

Pediatrician Dr. Don Shifrin joined Margaret to talk about various ways that anxiety manifests in children's minds. He also talked about how to help diffuse anxious behavior and recognize when to look for extra help.

Here are some of Dr. Shifrin's notes and tips about anxiety.

1) is characterized by excessive worrying that is not linked to any one event or situation
2) causes a child to feel significantly distressed over any number of things—from the health of family members to tests at school and future events
3)  is not defined by what the child is anxious about, but instead, by how severe and chronic the anxious feelings are
When the issues of "abnormal" functioning appear- with family-strangers-school-social situations appear that vary from the normal anxiety that children experience is when parents will ask about "why is he/she doing this?"
I have put (for children >8 years)   links to two Screening questionnaires on the website.  
Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED) are screening tools for parents and children to identify symptoms related to anxiety.
Scared Form for Parents
Anxiety and Stress in Children: Signs of Anxiety in Children
To spot the signs of anxiety and stress in children, keep an eye out for signs that something is bothering your child. Some common signs of anxiety and stress in children include:
· Complaints of stomach aches or headaches
· Sleep problems or difficulty concentrating
· Behavioral changes such as moodiness, a short temper or clinginess
· Development of a nervous habit, such as nail biting
· Refusal to go to school or getting into trouble at school
Anxiety and Stress in Children: Some Common Causes of Childhood Stress
The source of anxiety and stress in children can be something external, such as a problem at school, changes in the family, or a conflict with a friend. Anxiety and stress in children can also be caused by a child's internal feelings and pressures, such as wanting to do well in school or fit in with peers. Some common causes of anxiety and stress in children are:
Big changes in the family. Major life changes that can lead to anxiety and stress in children include divorce, a death in the family, moving, or even the birth of a new sibling. These seismic shifts can rock your grade-schooler’s world and turn it upside down. Major life changes can shake your child’s sense of security, and make her feel confused and anxious. For example, a new sibling can make a child feel threatened and jealous. A death in the family, particularly of a grandparent or someone else close to the child, can create confusion and grief, as well as anxiety and stress in children.
Overly-packed schedules. If your child is constantly running from one activity to another, he may feel stressed, especially if he’s the kind of kid who needs some quiet downtime to himself every once in a while.
Self-inflicted pressure. Many children can experience anxiety about wanting to do well in school. They may want to fit in with other kids and be liked. Self-generated pressure is particularly common in children who are afraid of making mistakes or not being good at something.
Stress caused by something at school. Bullies or cliques can become an issue once kids enter grade-school. Even if a child isn’t being bullied, the pressure to fit in and be popular can be stressful and lead to anxiety and stress in children. For younger grade-schoolers, separation anxiety can be a common problem.
A terrible news event. News headlines and television news images about natural disasters, terrorism, and violence can be upsetting and can certainly cause anxiety and stress in children. When kids see and hear about terrible news events, they may worry that something bad might happen to them or to someone they love.
A scary movie or a book. Fictional stories can also cause distress or anxiety in children. Children are commonly affected by frightening, violent, or upsetting scenes from a movie or passages in a book. While some kids might be more sensitive to some media content than others -- what's scary or upsetting for one child might have no affect on another -- it's a good idea to know what might upset your child, limit violent media content, and stick to age-appropriate movies, books, videogames and other media.
Published on Anxiety Disorders Association of America, ADAA (
Home > Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Tips for Parents and Caregivers
Here are things you can do at home to help your child manage his or her anxiety disorder:
  • Pay attention to your child’s feelings.
  • Stay calm when your child becomes anxious about a situation or event.
  • Recognize and praise small accomplishments.
  • Don’t punish mistakes or lack of progress.
  • Be flexible and try to maintain a normal routine.
  • Modify expectations during stressful periods.
  • Plan for transitions (For example, allow extra time in the morning if getting to school is difficult).
Keep in mind that your child’s anxiety disorder diagnosis is not a sign of poor parenting. It may add stress to family life, however. It is helpful to build a support network of relatives and friends.
It's important that you have the same expectations of your anxious child that you would of another child, according to psychologist Lynn Siqueland, PhD. She has specialized in treating children and adolescents with anxiety disorders for more than 15 years. She offers these parenting tips for anxious kids, [1] as well as ways to manage siblings, [2] whose lives are also affected.