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How do I know if my child has an issue with anxiety?

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

In this FAQ series, we asked clinical psychologist Catherine Gallagher “How do I know if my child has an issue with anxiety?”

When this question is asked, it is often an indicator that anxiety is already presenting some challenges, for either your child or possibly even for you. One of the difficult aspects of anxiety is that it encourages worrying, which in turn exacerbates the situation. So, the fact that your child is having some challenges might be something that you yourself are becoming increasingly concerned about. Either way, if they are presenting anxious tendencies, or whether you are worried about it becoming an issue, being proactive in learning more is an excellent choice. We know that there are some things we can do to support individuals with anxiety, and their family, that can have a positive impact, or even stop it becoming even more problematic.

There are some clues that may indicate the development of anxiety in children, and they come down to three factors. The first is sleep. How much disruption to their sleeping routine is the anxiety causing? Is it getting in the way of them sleeping in their own bed, or them going to school?

Secondly, how much distress is it causing? By this, we are talking about being upset to the point that it restricts their ability to function normally. These intense incidents may also last for a prolonged period of time.

The third factor is that the various approaches that you have tried to support them aren't working. They are still presenting anxious tendencies regardless of what you have done.

So, as a parent, you might be feeling a bit stretched, realising that everything you are trying isn’t having a positive impact, or that you are in need of some support. Either way, reaching out to professionals for resources, more information or even a bit of a plan around to support your child is a good move, particularly if those clues feel relevant to your situation. It's really important to reach out, to get some support, so that there is a resolution for your child, but also for yourself.

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