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Health and wellbeing

Stress and anxiety

Just like adults, children and young people are bound to feel stressed, worried and/or anxious at times.

It is common for children and young people to feel stressed or anxious about significant events such as starting a new school or before an exam.

For some children and young people certain social situations might cause them stress and anxiety and they may need extra support.

Anxiety becomes a problem for children when it starts to get in the way of their day-to-day life.

Severe anxiety like this can harm children’s mental and emotional wellbeing, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. They may become withdrawn and go to great lengths to avoid things or situations that make them feel anxious.

What are the signs of anxiety in children?

When young children feel anxious, they cannot always understand or express what they are feeling. Symptoms may include:

  • becoming irritable, tearful or clingy
  • having difficulty sleeping
  • waking in the night
  • wetting the bed
  • having bad dreams.

In older children, symptoms can include:

  • lacking the confidence to try new things or seem unable to face simple, everyday challenges
  • finding it hard to concentrate
  • having problems sleeping or eating
  • being prone to angry outbursts
  • having negative thoughts going round and round their head, or keep thinking that bad things are going to happen
  • avoiding everyday activities, such as seeing friends, going out in public or attending school.

Find out more about the physical symptoms of anxiety.

How to ease stress and anxiety

For children and young people, talking to someone they trust may be the best way to ease anxiety and stress. This could be a parent, grandparent, carer, teacher or someone else.

Read more about how adults can help to ease anxiety in children.


Getting help


Information aimed at children and young people about anxiety, stress and panic in general, as well as specific advice about coping with stress and managing anxiety.

0800 1111

Young Minds

Offer support for children and young people with mental health issues, how to cope, and where to go to get help. Also provide a parent support helpline.

0808 802 5544


Free, safe and anonymous online support - an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop

If you are concerned that a child is being abused, or to request support, you can:

Call 0345 155 1071

Complete the request for support online form

If it’s an emergency call 999