Last updated: 4 January 2021
What is anxiety?
Children and young people feel worried and fearful about different things sometimes, which is a normal part of growing up. This is often the case when they are faced with challenging tasks, unfamiliar people and unfamiliar situations.
Anxiety becomes a problem when these worries and fears are so severe and persistent that they start to interfere with normal activities in the child’s everyday life.
For example, on the first day at a new school, all children feel nervous. But some may feel so nervous that they fail to turn up.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems experienced by young people. But lots of people still suffer in silence. It is important to recognize anxiety and find the right support, so that more serious mental health problems can be prevented.
Causes of anxiety
The cause of anxiety in children and young people is likely due to a combination of different factors. Here are some factors to consider:
History of anxiety in the family
Being around anxious people
Having a stressful experience around a particular situation or object (e.g. social situation, animal, heights, planes)
Trauma (e.g. neglect, sexual abuse, accidents, deaths)
Big life changes (e.g. moving to a new house, death of a loved one, starting a new school)
Situations at home or school (e.g. parents fighting, abuse, bullying, exams)
It is very common for children and young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder to suffer from anxiety.