If You Have a Child with Anxiety: You Should Know These 5 Things

Because I eat, live and breathe anxiety – I have made the ridiculous assumption that everyone fully understands child anxiety. Working as a child therapist and having the genetic curse of anxiety in my family’s DNA – I get anxiety and unfortunately it gets me.



If you have a child with anxiety - make sure you and your family know these 5 things.

Over the years I have found some common misunderstandings about anxiety. If you know anxiety like I do – this list may not surprise you at all. For some of you however – it might shed some new light on anxiety.


1. Anxiety runs in families.


Just like diabetes, hair color and baldness – anxiety runs in families. If anyone in your extended family has a history of anxiety or OCD – your children are at risk of dealing with anxiety too. Anxiety can manifest differently in different family members – and it doesn’t have to look the same in each person.

Your Great Aunt Hilda might have been a hoarder, your mother might have had panic attacks and your child get’s too nervous to go to school – it is all anxiety.

2. Anxiety does not have to be caused by a trauma or a negative experience.

I am often asked – “Why is he anxious? He has nothing to be anxious about. His life is good.” Parents wonder why their children are afraid of bad guys, nervous to go to school or terrified of being separated from their parents. They tell me – “Nothing bad has ever happened to him!”

Anxiety does not have to come from trauma or a bad experience. You can be afraid of dogs without ever being bitten. You can be afraid of bad guys without ever meeting one. You can be sick to your stomach about going to school – without being bullied. If you have anxiety – you can be worried, afraid and nervous about situations that have never happened to you or that pose no real threat.

3. Anxiety can cause many physical symptoms that are not always understood as anxiety.

Anxiety can do some crazy things to our body. The most common symptoms include stomach upset, nausea and vomiting. It can cause frequent headaches. It can cause ongoing constipation or diarrhea. Many of the anxious children I work with have a history of constipation. It can cause panic attacks that make you have shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain and clamminess.

Anxiety isn't just in our mind, it is in our body as well. Read the most common physical symptoms of anxiety.
Some of the rarer symptoms can include difficulty swallowing along with the belief that there is something stuck in your throat. Constant throat clearing can sometimes be a symptom of anxiety. Anxiety can give you the urge to pick at your scabs, bite your nails and pull your hair, eyebrows and eyelashes out.

I always tell people to rule out any possible medical origin before thinking it is anxiety – but it is helpful to know that these physical symptoms can be linked to anxiety.

4. Giving in to your child’s anxiety will make their anxiety grow over time.

Some well intentioned parents cater to their children’s anxiety. It’s hard not to! This is tricky – because there is a fine line between giving in to your child’s anxiety versus being aware of when your child has reached their limit. There is a fine line between pushing your child too hard and empowering your child.

Children need to be given tools to learn how to fight their anxiety. They need to be empowered. They need to be supported. At times – they need to be challenged. Having said that – they also need to be understood. They need to not be pushed beyond their limits. The balance can be hard to find!

I have addressed ways to help teach children how to fight their fears in a previous post (click here to read).


5. The earlier a child can get help for anxiety – the better the long-term prognosis.

Often as parents –we take a wait and see approach. Parents might think – this is a stage or maybe they’ll outgrow this behavior. The earlier a child can learn coping mechanisms – the better.

You can help by reading books on anxiety with your children or reading parenting books on anxiety. Addressing anxiety head on gives your child the best odds for less anxiety in the future.

Some children benefit from some sessions with a child therapist. Parents can also benefit from learning parental approaches from a child therapist. Just remember – it doesn’t have to be extreme for you to start helping your child. Young children who show signs of anxiety are less likely to have developed unhealthy coping mechanisms and are often more open to learning new skills.

If you are not sure your child is anxious – read
10 Signs of an Anxious Child to get an idea of what anxiety looks like in children.

Do you know an anxious teen? Give them the only self-help book teens are likely to read:

Finally a teen anxiety book that teens will want to read!

Natasha Daniels is also the author of How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler. She offers a video course on How to Parent Your Anxious Kids – for all ages.


These are the best parenting lessons I have seen! Great quick videos on how to parent an anxious child.


Below are other great books on childhood anxiety (affiliate links): I love this book! I recommend this book to all the families I work with:

Visit Anxious Toddlers’s profile on Pinterest.

12 responses to “If You Have a Child with Anxiety: You Should Know These 5 Things”

  1. FABULOUS intro to this insidious instigator…
    Thanks and love,
    Full Spectrum Mama recently posted…IS DEVELOPING THIS SKILL: BALANCE(S) EDITIONMy Profile

  2. […] 5 Things Every Parent Should Know About Child Anxiety […]

  3. Louise says:

    This is really interesting. I think my little boy has anxiety but he is 7 now. The books above look great for parents and older kids but I wondered if you knew of anything that was suitable for his age range, to help him deal with it, rather than to help the parent?

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Louise,
      That’s a good question. Another great book is Wilma Jean the Worry Machine. The author also has an activity book that goes along with it. I added links to those books above. Hope that helps!

  4. I suffered from anxiety in high school and still battle it day to day. I had no idea that it runs in the family. I can see some signs that my daughter might have some anxiety issues. I will have to get her some help right away.

  5. Debra Brooks says:

    I have a niece who is 6yrs old now, who suffers from anxiety and melt downs…..My brother is 62yrs old and a widower. He lost his wife to murder Nov. 2,, 2010 he was out of town and my niece was 13 months old when it happened. She was in the house while it happened and was laying on top of her mother when they found her….He is trying to deal with this as a single dad and i send him your post often….Her Dr.. put her on meds about a year ago ( lexapro & Ambilify at night)….She just got off of them about a month ago and she is very anxious at night.. He doesn’t want her on meds but is considering maybe she needs to be back on them….Any suggestions……

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Debra – sorry to hear about your niece. Such a tragic story. You can tell your brother to talk to her doctor about the possibility of Melatonin. It isn’t as strong as the medication she was taking, but it is natural.

  6. Md.Ziauddin says:

    i think my small child so much anxiety from 4 years old i think these book help me recover my child problem
    its really good anxiety problem solutions gave a good anser me

  7. Hi

    Good article. Yes anxiety is a genetic problem in child. Your article can help them to recover anxiety from their children. Thumb Up!
    letstalkanxiety recently posted…Do you really want to Stop Anxiety Attacks?My Profile

  8. Many people with depression don’t have the typical symptoms. Learn about the causes and treatment of atypical depression, with symptoms that include weight gain, sleeping too much, and feeling anxious.From chronic illnesses such as heart disease to pain perception, sex, and sleep — discover how untreated depression can complicate your life.

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