What Is Anxiety?

While feeling anxious is a natural reaction to stressful situations, an anxiety disorder can be diagnosed when a child’s anxiety interferes with her ability to handle everyday situations, or prompts her to avoid things that most people her age enjoy. 

Anxiety has many symptoms and can look very different from child to child. Here are some common signs that might indicate an anxiety disorder:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Complaining about stomachaches or other physical problems
  • Avoiding situations
  • Exhibiting clingy behavior around parents or caregivers
  • Trouble focusing in class or being very fidgety
  • Disruptive behavior and explosive outbursts
  • Overly self-conscious behavior

What to Look For

Children can be diagnosed with different kinds of anxiety depending on what they are struggling with. Several different anxiety disorders are described in the following sections.