Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a child

What are the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a child?


  • Children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) may spend hours doing and redoing homework or other tasks that peers complete quickly. School is very often a place where there anxiety is evident. They may put pressure on themselves to perform or appear perfectionist.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a child may cause behavioral symptoms such as tantrumming. Anxious children may become angry about something with little provocation because they are trying to avoid something which has triggered anxiety.
  • Children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder may have difficulty sleeping because they are worrying about everything.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a child may cause them to constantly feel self doubt. They may frequently ask you for reassurance about their fears.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder in children may cause the following physical symptoms:
    • Tiredness

      Difficulty concentrating or irritability

      Muscle tension

      Feeling on edge

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a child may cause them to feel hopeless or out of control, because the worrying takes over their lives, and they are unable to control it.

Early identification and treatment is important. Generalized Anxiety Disorder in childhood can lead to generalized anxiety disorder as an adult. Many adults who have GAD report they have had it for all of their lives. Early treatment can help your child develop lifelong skills to manage their anxiety. Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a child can be very debilitating and seriously impact their ability to be happy and successful. As an adult, GAD is strongly correlated with drug alcohol and nicotine dependence. Children with GAD may also have other diagnoses. GAD is very frequently accompanied by a depressive disorder diagnosis and/or a second diagnosis of anxiety such as separation anxiety or panic disorder.

Is it my Fault my Child has Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

No it’s not your fault! There are many things that contribute to Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a child. Research has taught us some traits of parents of children with anxiety disorders. For example, parents of anxious kids are more likely to have anxiety themselves. Parents who are more anxious may reinforce anxiety behaviors in their children and may also model that behavior. Research also shows that parents of children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are more likely to be overprotective of their child or exhibit unnecessarily cautious behavior. We also know GAD in a child can be reinforced by a parent who does not have confidence in their child. Parents who encourage children to make choices, be independent and learn self control are less likely to have anxious kids.

Click here if you are interested in learning about treatment for a child with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Parenting Tips to Help your Child

  • If you think you are seeing signs of generalized anxiety in your child get your child in therapy. Click here to learn about child and family treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a child
  • Do you have confidence in your child's ability to be successful and handle their anxiety? If not, you may be limiting your child. How you can replace those limiting beliefs about your child with more positive ones?
  • How do you handle anxiety? Does your child see you avoiding activities because you are anxious? Does she hear you talk about worries that are unrealistic? If this is the case, get some help for your own anxiety.
  • Limit your child's exposure to phone calls or conversations where she may hear you worrying or may be exposed to adult anxiety.
  • Model a positive attitude about problem solving. Generalized anxiety in a child can cause them to feel like their problems are insurmountable. They need to see you solving problems with a curious and positive attitude. View problems as opportunities to learn.
  • Teach problem solving skills to your child. Identify problems, brainstorm solutions, examine the solutions, make a decision and evaluate the outcome.
  • With the help of your child's therapist, explore how you may be reinforcing the anxious behaviors your child is displaying and perpetuating their anxiety. Overprotecting your child is not good parenting, its enabling anxiety to control their life.

Click here to see information about treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder in children

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