Anxiety disorder in 6 year old child?

Ask A Therapist OnlineAnxiety disorder in 6 year old child?
Jo asked 13 years ago

I am concerned about my six year old boy. I feel he may have an anxiety disorder. I would like to bring him to a professional who is qualified to determine this and if so, seek help for him. This is affecting his life and schooling. What can I do?

1 Answers
Insight Psychological Staff answered 2 years ago

Hello. I’m sorry to hear about your son’s struggles – but thank you for reaching out for support for your son (and for you).

Anxiety can be present at all ages. If your son’s daily functioning is impacted due to symptoms of possible anxiety, you may want to consider seeking an assessment for ADHD as well as anxiety disorders, as many of the symptoms present similarly.

Children and youth may experience anxiety differently but there are common things to watch for:

Emotional symptoms

  • Overwhelming fears of things that are normally not seen as scary
  • Regressing to a younger or infantile state
  • Lack of concentration
  • Trouble performing in school
  • Mood changes
  • Behaviour changes
  • A sudden change in marks or performance
  • Damaging behaviour (to self, others, or property)
  • Avoiding activities outside of home
  • Inability to stop worrying
  • Being easily startled and/or quick to panic
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Dependence on parents
  • Need for constant reassurance

Physical symptoms

  • Nightmares
  • Lack of appetite or overeating
  • Lack of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Self harm
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Trembling, muscle tension
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulty (inability to take a deep breath, shallow breathing)
  • Heart palpitations

Having a diagnosis is the first step. We have many therapists who are qualified to perform formal assessments for your son.

Following the assessment, your child’s therapist can help you and your son to manage his symptoms. I would encourage you to explore our website or call our offices to find a psychologist that is a good fit for you and your son.

In the meantime, try to look for patterns in your son’s behaviors that indicate anxiety:

  • Is there something that happened right before you noticed his anxious tendencies?
  • Is there a particular issue that increases his feelings of anxiety after it occurs?
  • Has his school indicated any problems that may be adding to his stress (such as bullying or other issues)?
  • What do his behaviors look like that indicate anxiety?
  • When experiencing stress, how does he respond?

Answering these questions could help you gain some clarity of your son’s situation and prepare for a first session with one of our therapists.

I wish both of you all the best.