ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Childhood Anxiety

Updated on December 3, 2012

Do you have an anxious child?

Evan comes into our room, his little fingers twisting the blond hair by his face. “Mom?” he asks quietly.
“Yes Evan?” I stare at the clock. It’s 11pm and he is still awake.

“What will happen if I’m late for school tomorrow and miss the field trip bus?”

Is your child a worrywart?

Evan is our little worrywart. I recognize all the signs of anxiety in him, because I myself struggled with anxiety my whole life. Natural disasters, death, sickness- you name it, I worried.

What makes your child’s fears abnormal?

Here is the crucial point to remember about childhood anxiety: while most kids worry about the same things, anxious children struggle to cope and manage their fears. A laid back child will have a scary dream, and within a day or two- forget about it. An anxious child will have trouble going to sleep at night for days and weeks, worrying about the possibility of another nightmare. The subject they worry about is very normal- it’s the coping skills (or lack thereof) that signal your child needs some extra help.

How do you support a child who is anxious when they begin to worry about these common fears?

1. Fear of losing Mom and Dad
Simply telling your child it’s not likely that this will happen- does nothing to alleviate the fear. You will need to be a bit more creative. One of the best ways to combat this fear is to give your children the opportunity to bond with other adults. If he feels like you are the only two people on planet Earth who can care for him, the anxiety will only mount. The truth is that he knows you can’t promise that you won’t die, so rather than minimizing the fear, you can try this-

“I know you are afraid of Mommy and Daddy dying, but that is probably not going to happen. I want you to know though that if something happened to us, Grandma would take care of you.”

You can explain the process and hopefully he has a solid relationship with a grandparent or other family member so that he would be reassured by the fact that someone he loves would be there for him, even if you could not.

2. Fear of a fire or some natural disaster ruining his house or belongings
If your child is old enough for simple math, you can have a discussion about the statistical improbability of this happening. However don’t use other bad things to combat his fear of natural disasters! You will just have given him something new to worry about. Instead, take small steps to help him feel in control. If he is worried about fire, put one of those stickers on his window and create a fire emergency plan. You and him can create a little “emergency” kit with a flashlight, batteries, water, band-aids, etc. so he feels like he has some control over something that is uncontrollable. Visit the fire department or police station so he can understand how people can help him in a difficult situation.

3. Fear of being late for school or some event
You may have to take a look at your own patterns of timeliness. Are you often late yourself? If so, his fear may not be unfounded! If however, you are the kind of person who is on time, set an alarm clock by his bed so he knows it’ll wake him up. Tell him you will do the same, and prepare the night before with his backpack, lunch, etc. Remind him that even if he were to be late, you both would figure something out and it will be okay.

4. Fear of being bullied
Kids want to know they are strong and capable. If there is bullying happening, get involved immediately with the school, counselors, and the other family. If however your child is simply worried about it in the future, you can take this approach. Give him a plan for the playground. Make it very clear what steps to take if he is in a compromising situation. Many anxious children are afraid of getting in trouble, and feel that they couldn’t get out of a situation where they were being picked on. If you give your child permission to (for example) push someone away physically IF all the other tactics don’t work, that extra boost of empowerment may alleviate his fears.

5. Fear of bad grades or getting in trouble
Fear of failure is hard on worrywarts. Trust me, I know! Rather than hiring a tutor, or scheduling more homework time, reassure your child that failure is okay. A bad grade or detention will not minimize your love for him, and he doesn’t need to be afraid of imperfection. Next time he fails at something, take him out for ice cream, just to show him how his world can be “okay” even when he’s done something wrong. The truth is most kids who worry about these things, rarely experience a bad grade or detention!

6. Fear of germs
This one is difficult, because your child may refuse to do fun activities or touch something that another child has touched. Since there is so little one can do to prevent germs and sickness, learning to be okay with illness is one of the toughest fears to overcome. Again, I would ask you to do a self-check. Are you anxious about germs? If so, there may be a lot more caught than taught. If you are not one to obsess, educating him will help. It's a fine line though- too much education can fuel the fear. Sometimes relieving the pressure of constant vigilance over an invisible enemy is the trick. Educating him about all the ways his body works to fight and heal can help.

7. Fear of not being able to sleep
Insomnia breeds more insomnia. First things first, you need to break the cycle. If your child has struggled to fall asleep for several days in a row, you can give him some “sleepy” medicine (Benadryl). Psychologically, the pressure is off the child to figure out how to fall asleep and usually the child is knocked out before the medicine even has a chance to kick in. Once he’s gotten a good night’s sleep, try these tips:

  • Create a bedtime routine
  • Turn off all devices, TV, or even books that stimulate him
  • Take the clock out of his room so he can’t obsess
  • If time is ticking away, reassure him with the promise he can sleep in (even if it is only a few minutes), because he’ll feel less pressured to fall asleep quickly

8. Fear of heights
Don’t try to make your child not afraid by sticking him on top of the monkey bars. This fear is difficult to overcome, and you may have to wait until he is older. Yes, he might miss out on the class zip-lining field trip, but if he feels like he disappointed you by not conquering his fear, it’ll only add to plaguing doubts of your love for him. Try not to project onto him your own feelings, and let this one go.

9. Fear of dogs
This fear can be managed through education about animals and small baby steps of exposure. Start with a book at the library, and work your way up to a visit at a pet store to observe animals through the glass. Go to a park and watch a dog from a distance. Do not force your child to take steps he’s not ready to take, but at the same time- do not make a big deal out of his fear. By doing so, you simply give him reason to think he’s supposed to be afraid.

10. Fear of getting lost
If your child is old enough for one, giving him some sort of device with built in maps and GPS solves this fear immediately! But he is younger, you can have a little map reading lesson. Teach him about street signs, dialing 911, how to remember his address and phone number, and other useful tips for getting around. Reassure him by building skills that ensures this isn't likely to happen. Don't make grand sweeping statements about how you'll never lose him. Making yourself more important and "god-like" only fuels anxiety, because he cannot truly control when you are and aren't with him. He must learn to feel safe within himself.

The bottom line

Anxious children need tools to feel empowered. They need reassurance that failure is okay, and that others in the world will help them when they need it. There is a fine line between ignoring a fear (which will not help) and remaining neutral about his fears (which will). You want to give them a sense of control where they can have it, and a healthy understanding that where there is no control, things are going to be okay.

Interested in Hubpages? Sign up and start earning money!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great topic for a hub! This will be such a useful resource for parents.

    • Julie DeNeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      6 years ago from Clinton CT

      thank you!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Very good hub. I was an anxious child and I think you've done a good job of explaining how to handle some typical anxieties. Voted up.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This hub was very informational and useful. Good job.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)