One in five young children in Hong Kong show anxiety, a survey has found. Photo: iStock

Nearly one in five Hong Kong children aged from three to six have anxiety symptoms that adults should be concerned about.

“Parents don’t accompany children when they go to bed or parents stay overnight outside”, “fear of insects and spiders” and “afraid of darkness” are the top three reasons that children show excessive worry, Sing Pao reported. It cited research by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Social Work Department commissioned by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

Some 1,300 children aged between three and six from 12 kindergartens in Shatin, Yung Long and Tuen Mun in the New Territories and Kowloon’s Hung Hom and Whampao were interviewed for the study.

It found that 21% of children need adults to help with their mental health and that 12% of them need professional help or counseling.

When children experience excessive anxiety or worry it can cause heart palpitations, sweat or shortness of breath and they may refuse to go to school or get out of control.

The study said children’s mental health is often ignored as adults generally don’t think kids in this age group will have anxiety problems.

Parents who are stressed or anxious is the main reason, Leung Suk-man, an assistant professor at the Chinese University said, adding that other reasons were the rules set in kindergarten as well as the intense training and courses children are given when entering primary school.

Leung advised that parents should accompany their children more often and communicate with them to establish a good relationship.