Children, like adults, can experience anxiety. However, children may show different symptoms than adults. Knowing how to identify anxiety in children can help parents or guardians address it early. Then, parents may decide to find a child therapistor psychologist to help their child learn how to manage it.
If a child feels anxious more often and more intensely than most children their age, they may have some type of anxiety. A child who has anxiety might have difficulty going to school. They may also avoid social events or extracurricular activities, like sports. Some kids with anxiety are behind for their age in areas like making friends or being independent. Anxiety in children may appear as crying, clinging to parents, or tantrums.
Kids with anxiety may show certain behaviors that mimic obsessions or compulsions. Continual picking or pulling at skin or hair can be an anxious behavior. They may also show signs of separation anxiety. Signs of separation anxiety include clinging to parents, crying, or refusing to go to school or friend’s houses. Children can also experience generalized anxiety and may not be able to identify why they feel anxious, which can make the anxiety counseling process more unpredictable in terms of treatment duration. As children enter adolescence, they may be more likely to develop anxiety. Social anxiety often begins around age 13, but many exhibit full or partial symptoms much earlier. Up to 25.1% of adolescents ages 13 to 18 may be affected by an anxiety condition.
Older children or teens may develop food-related anxiety, which can lead to disordered eating. If left unchecked, this can cause serious health complications. Studies show that up to 91% of female teens have tried to control their weight with food. Meanwhile, around 40% of female teens show signs of disordered eating. Some researchers say that eating issues in males are also increasing. While food-related anxiety can occur on its own, it often co-occurs with other anxiety-related conditions, such as obsessions and compulsions. Disordered eating may also develop in teenagers as a coping mechanism for handling anxiety, stress, or trauma.