Oxford Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Child Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

It is perfectly normal for both adults and children to feel anxious from time to time. Anxiety is a feeling of fear or worry which results from a sense of threat. The sense of threat can be a related to life changes e.g. moving home, a stressful event such as starting a new school or preparing for examinations. Some anxiety can be the result of a current or past traumatic experience such as parental separation, bullying or an accident.

What Are The Signs Of Anxiety?

There are a number of reasons why children become anxious, here are some early warning signs that the child may need some help:

  • Sleep difficulties, not being able to sleep, bad dreams or waking in the night
  • Changes with eating habits, loss of appetite or eating more
  • Increase in irritability and angry outbursts which seem out of control
  • Increase in worry and negative thoughts
  • Avoidance of activities and social interactions
  • Complaining of physical problems such as stomach aches and feeling unwell
  • Tearfulness and becoming clingy with parents

Main types of Child Anxiety

Panic attacks:
when a child fears doing a certain activity or going outside for fear of having a panic attack where their heart beats really fast and they feel they cannot breathe

Fears and phobias:
afraid of the dark, dogs, spiders or water, these are a perfectly normal part of growing up and most children will grow out of these fears.

Separation anxiety:
when child fears not being with parent or regular carer and becomes clingy and shy, this can occur at times when your child attends school or boards away from home.

Social anxiety:
This can be observed as a reluctance to leave their bedroom or the family home and avoid situations of a social nature such as parties and other times with peers.

School based anxiety:
The focus of anxiety could be attending school or boarding away from home, completing homework tasks or examinations where there is a fear of making mistakes and being revealed as a failure. This fear can be observed as avoidance, procrastination or over studying and not taking sufficient time for breaks.

Back to School Anxiety Podcast

Back to School Anxiety - Podcast

  • Listen to Tom Murfitt speaking about "Back to school anxiety" on BBC Radio Oxford with Ali Jones.
    This is an excerpt from the full radio show broadcast on 9th April 2016.

    When does child anxiety need treating?

    Anxiety only needs treating if it begins to interfere with your child’s development and ability to achieve their goals which in turn when prevents them from enjoying their lives.

    How can Oxford CBT Help?

    Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help your child to identify the worrying or anxious thoughts that they are experiencing, how this makes them feel and what they can change which will help them to move forward with their lives and feel happier.

    Learn strategies to use to cope in situations which trigger anxiety and overcome their fears.

    It can be helpful for them to talk to a professional who is someone they do not know as it can allow them to be more open and honest about what they are thinking and feeling without the fear of disappointing or hurting a loved one.


  • For advice or to book an assessment please contact Oxford CBT at our Oxford practice centre.