Anxiety manifests in a surprising variety of ways in part because it is based on a physiological response to a threat in the environment, we call this the “Fight” or “Flight” response. So while some children exhibit anxiety by shrinking from situations or objects that trigger fears, some react with an overwhelming need to break out of an uncomfortable situation with either fight or flight. The more commonly recognized symptoms of anxiety in a child are things like trouble sleeping in his own room or separating from his parents, avoidance of certain activities, a sensitive temperament. Anyone would recognize those symptoms but the more oppositional, angry or aggressive can be harder to identify.

Problems at school

It’s not uncommon for children with serious undiagnosed anxiety to be disruptive at school, where demands and expectations put pressure on them that they can’t handle. And it can be very confusing to teachers and other staff members to “read” that behavior, which can seem to come out of nowhere. Children often have lots of ” fallouts” with peers as they are misreading situation due to the anxiety.

How to identify Anxiety

It probably occurs more than we think, either it’s anxiety that looks disruptive or anxiety in combination with disruptive behaviors. It’s always good to have a thorough assessment with a professional. Sometimes I use a RACDS questionnaire, this can identify what types of anxiety your child may be suffering from. In addition, I’ve written another page discussing different symptoms and classifications, click>> here

Tips on what to do if your child is Anxious and Disruptive


Educate and explain anxiety, teach your child about the fight or flight response and our amygdala and everyone feels anxious from time to time. This does not need to be all in one go, so chats whilst you are drawing or car journeys are great. I talked about a lot of things during a car journey, everyone knows that there is a beginning and an end. This is a video I did for Understanding Anxiety blog, there is a link at the bottom of the post.

Help them to breathe

Deep breathing really helps the amygdala to calm and feel soothed. They can breathe from their hears or belly by placing their hands on each and then breathing in and out through their nose.  Practice this throughout the day, not only when they are anxious. For younger children, show them how by using a teddy or lovey. Some children need to move so teach them the turtle technique. help them to calm down in their shell. Just remember if you need to do this many times, this enables connections in their higher brain. Remember neuronal connections develop from the bottom up.

8 ways to help your child calm down

Teach them self-talk, finding the superhero in them!
How they can manage the behaviour by challenging their thoughts and being boss of the anxiety,  help them to develop the superhero in them and power thoughts. Here is a post that I did for another blog, see more hereways to help my child calm down

Help them to make different choices.

They can’t change their behaviour until they have some ways to manage it, then you can help them to make different choices. You may have to give some limits, especially if they hit out. Sit down and work together on a plan if this how they manage the anxiety. Involving your child will result in their co-operation. This can take time, as we all get into habits so take every day at a time.

Praise them

When you see them doing well, praise them and express your belief in them!! Praise needs to be:

  • Immediate
  • Specific
  • Consistent
  • Not just words but pats and smiles too.
  • Dont forget to praise in front of others, it makes your child feel great!

Ask the teacher, liaise with the school

Develop a consistent home and school plan to manage the anxiety and disruptive, schools are often really helpful in these circumstances and I’ve always found its helpful to work and gain support from them.

Wishing you all a smooth transition into the new Autumn term. If you feel that you are unable to manage the anxiety, so contact me for a consultation or attend my two and one part AnxietyWorkshops starting in September and November. With Love Catherine

Related Posts:

Understanding Anxiety in Children

Create a self-soothe box to Calm down

10 Tips for helping your anxious child at Holiday Club

How to help your anxious child in social situations

Does my child have OCD

Separation Anxiety and Disorder

3 Phrases your child may say if they are anxious