Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear.

Everyone feels anxious or worried at different times, but for some children these feelings can affect their daily life.

One in fourteen children and young people aged 4 to 17 in Australia experience an anxiety disorder.

Signs and symptoms

Anxiety can affect your child’s thoughts, behaviour and feelings.

They might find it hard to go to school or do things they’d usually enjoy. It can also affect how they get along with other people.

If your child has anxiety, they may experience these symptoms.


  • Overwhelmed
  • Fear and worry
  • Dread
  • Nervous
  • Irritable
  • Always in a bad mood or moody


  • Mind racing or going blank – for example, ‘I can’t control myself’
  • Unrealistic fear or worry – for example, ‘I am going crazy’
  • Indecisiveness – for example, ‘People are judging me’
  • Unwanted or intrusive thoughts


  • Avoiding or withdrawing from feared situations
  • Needing to perform certain tasks to relieve worry
  • Easily startled or needing reassurance
  • Becoming upset if there's a mistake or change to routine
  • Argumentative

Body sensations

  • Pounding heart or chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Nightmares, sweating, numbness, hot or cold flushes
  • Choking or a dry mouth

Why does my child have anxiety?

Your child might have anxiety because of:

  • a history of anxiety in your family
  • stressful life events
  • changes in chemical messengers in the brain
  • the way they cope with stress.

Usually, there is more than one reason.

The symptoms of anxiety can depend on a number of factors and may pass quickly or stay for a longer period of time.

Treating anxiety

With the right treatment and support, your child can recover from anxiety.

A health professional can help them:

  • recognise how they feel and why
  • learn ways to cope with and recover from anxiety
  • stay active, eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep
  • get support from family and friends who they can talk with
  • connect with their cultural heritage and community
  • see their anxiety from a different perspective
  • link up with other doctors or experts
  • achieve their goals.

Help and support

Talk to your GP about help and support. They can refer your child to a psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor, mental health nurse or social worker.

You can also contact:

Developed by the Child and Youth Mental Health Service, Queensland Children’s Hospital. We acknowledge the input of consumers and carers.

Resource ID: FS157. Reviewed: May 2023.

Disclaimer: This information has been produced by healthcare professionals as a guideline only and is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your child’s doctor or healthcare professionals. Information is updated regularly, so please check you are referring to the most recent version. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

Last updated: October 2023