Dyslexia and anxiety in kids

By Peg Rosen

At a glance

  • It’s not uncommon for kids with dyslexia to experience anxiety.

  • The anxiety is usually limited to situations that involve reading.

  • There are ways to help kids with dyslexia cope with anxiety.

Kids know how important reading is. They hear it from their parents and teachers starting at a very young age. For kids with dyslexia, struggling with such a vital skill can create a lot of stress. And that can lead to anxiety.

Usually, these feelings are limited to situations that involve reading. But some kids with dyslexia develop a bigger problem with anxiety. They worry far in advance about having to read and may even dread it.

When kids with dyslexia have anxiety, they often get caught up in “what ifs.” What if the other kids see me reading an easy book and think I'm stupid? What if the teacher calls on me to read and I trip over the words?

They might be afraid of failing, or of being judged or embarrassed. There may even be moments when they fear they’ll never learn or succeed at anything because of their reading challenges. That can lead them to stop trying or avoid challenges.

Getting the right type of support and reading instruction can make a big difference. Kids see that their skills improve with support and hard work. And those improvements can help reduce anxiety and build self-esteem. 

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    About the author

    About the author

    Peg Rosen writes for digital and print, including

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Jerome Schultz, PhD is a clinical neuropsychologist and lecturer in the Harvard Medical School Department of Child Psychiatry.