Childhood Anxiety Symptoms and How to Help

childhood anxiety symptoms

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 15% to 20% of youth in the general population struggled with anxiety disorders. []. However, more recent research suggests that this number is rising, and one study found the depression and anxiety rates doubled in youth compared to the pre-pandemic findings. 

The effects of childhood stress can last a lifetime, so it is essential to understand what it looks like and how you can help.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, missing out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. 

What is anxiety, and how can you spot it in your children?

Anxiety is a survival mechanism and is meant to protect us, but sometimes people experience repeated and excessive fear and worry, leaving them to feel helpless. 

Anxious behaviors stem from biology and the environment.  In other words, nervous behaviors may be inherited, learned, or both.  The good news is that there are strategies and tools to become aware and cope with stress and anxiety.

First, it is helpful to understand the similarities and differences between stress and anxiety.  They are often used interchangeably, but there are some unique differences. 


childhood anxiety
Some common ways childhood anxiety symptoms arise in children

Anxiety comes in many forms and can look very different from child to child. To take a close look at what other stress types look like in children, check out this article from the Child Mind Institute. 

Here are some common signs of anxiety in children:


  • Lack of focus and concentration 
  • Easily distracted


  • Irritable and overwhelmed
  • Avoidance of feared situations
  • Withdrawn
  • Trouble relaxing
  • Overly self-conscious


  • Sleeping troubles 
  • Tummy aches or nausea
  • Tense muscles 
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • High blood pressure         
childhood anxiety symptoms

According to the Child Mind Institute, childhood anxiety is often a precursor for adult anxiety, especially for kids who don’t receive treatment. The same study showed that 80 percent of kids with anxiety do not get treatment.

How can you help your child manage anxiety?

It is essential to identify and help childhood anxiety symptoms early in life so that they grow up with the coping skills to manage it before it interferes with daily living. 

Read here are some simple ideas to help kids manage stress effectively.  

Strive to build a daily routine so that it becomes a healthy habit. Remember, each child is different, so offering a variety of techniques helps build their unique coping toolbox.

Here are 30 Coping Skills to try at home with your kids. Ask your child to share which ones help them settle their mind and body. 
  1.  Belly Breathing with a BE Buddy® or favorite stuffed animal
  2.  Journal or write a letter
  3.  Go for a walk
  4.  Artwork (paint, draw, color)
  5.  Play with pet
  6.  Yoga or another exercise
  7.  Listen to music
  8.  Take a shower or bath
  9.  Play with a fidget toy or slime (or other stress relief toy)
  10.  Play a board game
  11.  Do something kind for someone else
  12.  Practice positive self-talk
  13.  Garden or yardwork
  14.  Jump on a trampoline
  15.  Do a puzzle
  16.  Blow up a balloon or bubbles
  17.  Laugh or smile 
  18.  Ride a bike or scooter
  19.  Cook or bake
  20.  Talk to someone you trust
  21.  Visualization of a special place
  22.  Aromatherapy – lavender or another calming scent
  23.  Stretch
  24.  Weave, knit, crochet
  25.  Build something (i.e. Legos) 
  26.  Eat healthily
  27.  Get some sleep
  28.  Give someone a hug
  29.  Cry
  30.  Learn something new
Are there other strategies you have tried?

If you are looking for more resources to help your child build a coping toolbox to manage stress and anxiety,  check out my free self-care guide for kids.  This 32-page guide is packed with actionable tools and tips to help your child develop wellness from the inside out!

Together we can help your child become more calm, connected, and resilient.

Thanks for reading,

🧡 Stephanie Esser | Owner at Balancing Elephants | BE Buddy® (watch video)


P.S. A gift for you!  Help your kids breathe well to BE well with our one-of-a-kind mindful breathing pillow.  Head to our shop and get $5 off  + FREE shipping your order.  Use code “BLOG5OFF” at checkout. 

MA.Ed., Certified BREATHE™ Coach, RYT200, Yoga Calm® Youth Instructor I help kids surf the waves of life, one breath at a time!