Children that were born premature have an increased risk of anxiety when starting school than that of full term children. These problems could have a large impact on school performance and interaction with other children. Anxiety can also have an effect on children’s thinking where they perceive the fear or danger to be greater than it is. Thinking about the situation, makes them more worried and stressed.

A child with anxiety may:

  • Avoid situations they are scared about
  • Are extremely shy, timid and clingy
  • Afraid to take risks or try new things
  • Refuses to eat lunch in school
  • Has trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Have lots of worries
  • Get upset easily
  • Seek reassurance
  • Have repeated complaints of headache or tummy ache


Parents of preterm kids should be aware that there may be an increased risk for anxiety and indicate to teachers and mental health professionals that their child was born premature and to assist them with the right interventions. Early detection, parenting support and timely referral to specialised care help give preterm children the best start at school.

Activities that can reduce anxiety in school children include:

  • Relaxation exercise – helping your child slow down and take deep breaths to calm them.
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle – eat well, exercise and sleep.
  • Set aside some time to get your child to write or draw whatever is bothering them. After about 10 mins put it in a worry box and say goodbye to it for day.
  • Parents can read more about anxiety and talk to experts to help their children.

If the anxiety is severe, seeking help from a Counsellor or Psychologist for treatment is recommended.  Sometimes a child may be referred to a Psychiatrist. Medicating children is always a concern but, in some cases, medication combined with therapy is more beneficial than therapy alone.

Questions you can ask your health care team:

  • What is my child’s treatment options?
  • What side effects can my child expect from taking medication?
  • What activities can I do with my child to ease their anxiety?
  • Will the parents be involved in therapy?
  • How soon should we expect improvement?

It can be stressful for a parent wondering if your child is suffering from anxiety. You should reach out and seek help from a counsellor or doctor to talk it through if you have any concerns for you or your child.

Useful Links:

“You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think”
- Christopher Robin.

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].