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).


OTHER ARTICLES:  5 Tips on How to Parent your Anxious Child

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.


Additional Support



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!



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.

24 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,

  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. Kenneth Gladman says:

    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. 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!

  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.

  9. Jessica says:

    Hi, I know my son has anxiety, and now I’m wondering about my daughter. Do you think that sensory issues could be a sign of anxiety?

  10. baby love says:

    great post thanks for sharing

  11. Selina Marie says:

    Hi Natasha,

    Never thought anxiety could run i a family. Definitely going to keep an eye for singes from now on.

    Keep up the good work!

  12. lisa says:

    Hi just wondering what the cost of the course is in australian dollars

  13. Belinda says:

    Lovely helpful article.
    I have a question, I babysat my three year old niece. I found her breathing unusual for a child that age. She breathed in through her mouth, held it for two or three seconds and then let it burst out. There was no obvious diagramatic breathing. She did that until I put her down for a nap and her breathing returned to normal. She has long a history of constipation, laxatives are part of her daily diet and she never leaves her mum’s side. Night wakefullness aswell.
    I’m guessing she was anxious and despite my best loving and playful efforts, and even though she played and talked with me, under it all, she was still anxious?
    Question: Do I mention this to the mum who appear extremely uninterested in the learning about health?😬

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Belinda,
      I would mention it to her mom, even if she seems uninterested. At least you did your part to let her know.

  14. Jen says:

    My 5 yr old son has recently been complaining that he can’t breathe. He’s been checked by 2 doctors and his vitals and oxygen are fine. He says sometimes that he is stressed. We cuddles on the couch before bed which is a pretty normal routine. He got up and said he just can’t sit or stand or lay down right now . What is going on? I’m so worries because if it is anxiety, I’m not ok with putting my child on medicine for it….

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Jen,
      Sorry to hear about his struggles. Does he get scared at night? Sometimes kids get anxious before bedtime. I would try some guided imagery with him. You can download Lori Lite. She makes CDs for kids to help them relax. Maybe that would help calm him?

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