Anxiety. The word alone can bring to surface intense apprehension, feeling “on edge,” and overall worry. Add to it the thought of heading back to school with extraordinary pressures from teachers, peers, and homework deadlines. It’s no wonder many kids literally freak out when school begins each fall!

Often, the word anxiety is used flippantly to describe when one feels nervous. In reality, anxiety disorders can be overwhelming, debilitating, and isolating for many kids. This condition can change one’s personality drastically as well as change their life. True anxiety in children may be overlooked by their parents as “beginning of school nerves” when the situation is actually more critical.

How can parents identify signs and symptoms of anxiety in their child before the problem becomes all-consuming? I have listed a few common red flags of anxiety disorders.

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Excessive worry
  • Inability to focus
  • Mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Irrational fears or being overly fearful
  • Self-consciousness
  • Fear of embarrassment in public
  • Fear of eating in public
  • Exaggerated impatience
  • Vivid dreams

Physical Symptoms:

  • Neck pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness or feeling “on edge”
  • Sleeping problems
  • Chronic indigestion
  • Racing heart rate
  • Tightness in chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tightness
  • Facial ticks
  • “Lump in throat” feeling
  • Dry mouth

The ‘Why’ of Anxiety:

There are various reasons why anxiety could be present in a child such as: hormonal changes, low serotonin levels, and/or other chemical imbalances. Genetic factors, temperament, and stress or trauma can all be triggers for anxiety flare-up in kids. But keep in mind, while these are different possibilities for causing anxiety, they are not the only defining factors.

When should a parent seek counseling for their child?

You should consider getting treatment for your child if you realize several of the following:

  • They experience many of the symptoms of anxiety listed above more days than not
  • Medical causes have been ruled out by their doctor
  • Their anxiety level greatly affects normal daily functioning

Getting help from a counselor can greatly reduce and even eliminate anxiety disorders. With treatment and coping skills learned in counseling, anxiety can become much more manageable. The more adaptable the anxiety becomes, the more confident your child can become against their fears. Remember, there is hope! Anxiety is treatable.


The Babb Center for Counseling is a great place to get help for kids struggling with anxiety. Contact us today to set an appointment: 615-824-3772.



Content adapted from If Your Adolescent Has an Anxiety Disorder by Edna Foa.