Anxiety in ADHD Children: Symptoms and Management

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Between 20 and 32 percent of children with ADHD have anxiety disorders.

Treatment for anxiety is both pharmacological and non pharmacological. Anxiety medication and ADHD medication have opposing effects. Thus in many cases, only the anxiety is treated with medication, as its effects are more disabling. Here are some interventions, ideas and tips for dealing with anxiety in children with ADHD. You can use most of them at home or in the classroom.

Training in Social Skills:

Social skills training are usually weekly groups conducted by a therapist. However, these skills can be taught and reinforced even at home, or in the classroom. Help the child gain confidence in social situations that they face every day. Provide opportunities for the child to develop conversation skills and other social behaviors. Give feedback and appreciate the child when he or she gets it right. Help the child practice skills that they are not confident about in front of a mirror.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy:

This type of therapy can help older children or adolescents with ADHD to identify negative thoughts and dispute them. You too, can use this concept at home or school, by teaching the child to be positive and see the good in every situation. Support the child through anxious times by saying positive, encouraging statements and building their confidence.

Relaxation Techniques:

Some children can learn to keep their anxiety under control with relaxation techniques. These include deep breathing, and lying still and closing their eyes for a few minutes. The child needs to be taught to practice these techniques whenever he or she gets anxious. Parents or teachers may need to remind the child to stop and use relaxation techniques when they find that the child is very anxious.

Sleeping Well:

Children who do not get enough sleep at night are prone to anxiety. Make sure the child’s bedroom is noise free, and eliminate any disturbances. Set up a routine for sleeping every night that requires the child to get into bed at a specific time even if they are not feeling sleepy.


Exercise lowers stress levels in children with ADHD. Encourage exercise by introducing the child to sports, dance, self defense and other enjoyable physical activities. Allot physical chores in the house or classroom, to channel the hyperactivity.

Teach the Child to Accept Mistakes:

Children who aim for perfection often get very anxious when things don’t go right. Teach the child that some things in life don’t always happen smoothly, and thus they should just accept it if they make a mistake.

Use Schedules and Routines:

Schedules and routines help a person with anxiety feel safer. The regularity of daily tasks helps the child to feel safe and secure. It provides them with order and stability. However, whenever there is going to be a change in the routine or schedule, ensure that you prepare the child for it and let him or her know what is going to happen.

Handling Emotions:

Learning about their emotions and learning to accept them is a big step towards overcoming anxiety. However, the child needs to be a little older to understand their condition. You can start by teaching children to label common emotions and deal with them constructively. Over time, you can help the child understand how anxiety affects their life.

Thus, these are some ideas for dealing with anxiety in ADHD children. Early diagnosis and treatment of the anxiety can help the child with ADHD cope better with the challenges in their life.

NB: The content of this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace sound medical advice and opinion.


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