In children as young as five (or even younger), anxiety can be a complicated issue to navigate. Most parents want to help their children live a happy and fulfilling life, free from excessive worry or fear.
In this article, we explore early signs of anxiety and learn why children can become anxious. We look at some easy anxiety-relieving activities that may help. If you still feel concerned with the anxiety being displayed by your child, see the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
The Types of Childhood Anxieties
Anxiety can take many forms, especially in children. At around five-year-olds, there are a varity of ways that anxiety typically presents.
General anxiety: This is an excessive worry that can cause irritability, fatigue, concentration issues, and sleep problems. Your child may develop worry about school or their family or friends. Certain activities or events may also trigger anxiety.
Separation: This occurs mostly in younger children, but five-year-olds may still experience fear or worry about loved ones dying, becoming separated, or being left alone. This can result in nightmares, refusing to separate from parents at school, or physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.
Selective mutism: This occurs when children feel anxious in social situations and refuse to speak, despite being talkative at home. This tends to peak at age five.
Phobias: Some children develop anxiety around something specific, such as certain animals, storms, or needles.
Social: Social anxiety can develop in children, leading them to feel anxious in any social situation, with adults or other children.
Quick Anxiety-Busting Ideas for Parents
- Talk about why worrying can be a good thing
Rather than continually reassuring your child that there’s nothing to worry about, shift the discussion to why worry can be good. Why do we worry? Does worrying help us sometimes? How can we know when worry is helpful and when it causes us problems?
- Name your child’s worry
Naming the beast takes away his power. Ask your child to think of their anxiety as a little creature that lives in their head. Sometimes this creature acts up and causes a big mess. Let your child the creature and remind them to talk to their creature when they get out of control.
- Try creative therapies
Try different ways to relieve anxiety at the moment to see what works best for your child. Try a three-minute calm down with a favourite song, a quick sketch to show our feelings, legs-up-the-wall yoga posing, or breathing exercises outside in the fresh air.
Anxiety can be normal in young children and present in a variety of forms. Knowing this can help you see the signs and feel less challenged if they appear. Seek help if you feel like the anxiety remains at unhealthy levels, despite your efforts to reduce it.
Written by Kaitlan D.
As well as a writer with a passion for education, Kaitlan works in a wellness practice, working with mothers, mothers-to-be and hopeful mothers.
 Smith K. 6 Types of Anxiety that Can Affect Children. 2019-08-06
 Dickson S, Burgess-Manning J. Yoga Poses to help with Anxiety. 2015-09-07
All articles are provided as general information and are not intended, nor may it be construed, as medical advice or instruction. Information and opinions expressed are believed to be correct and accurate to the best knowledge and judgement of the authors. Readers should consult their appropriately qualified health care professional prior to taking any action or inaction.