Signs of anxiety in children
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
We often think of anxiety and the feelings that come along with it as something that only adults struggle with. However, anxiety affects children quite often, and it can be just as hard for kids to beat anxiety as it is for older individuals. Children may feel anxious for a wide variety of reasons, whether it is due to a sense of high expectations or an unstable family, and as a parent, you want to do everything you can to help protect your child’s mental health.
As someone who was diagnosed with anxiety at a young age, I am very passionate about providing others with the help and resources they need to beat anxiety once and for all. Today’s post is designed to help you recognize the signs of anxiety in children.
7 Signs of Anxiety in Children
Agitation or Irritation
When children are irritable or easily agitated, we often assume it is because they are tired from a long day or because they are hungry. These factors can certainly cause this type of behavior, and you should always ensure your child’s needs are met. However, if this behavior has become common and doesn’t appear to be related to diet or sleep patterns, your child might be dealing with anxious feelings.
Does your child have a hard time settling down to go to sleep at night, even after a day of intense physical activity? Do they often have a hard time resting and relaxing? It is easy to chalk up restlessness and hyperactivity to a variety of factors, but anxiety usually isn’t one that is on the radar. Restlessness in children is a key indicator of anxiety, as it is a physical manifestation of the internal uneasiness and apprehension they may be experiencing.
Frequent Meltdowns and Tantrums
As a parent, you know all too well that children tend to throw fits at the most inopportune times. While this phase of childhood can test even the most patient of parents, it doesn’t last forever. Frequent meltdowns and tantrums can be a sign of anxiety in children, and parents should pay close attention to what seems to trigger this behavior. Is it usually triggered by school work, sports, or certain friends? These things can all trigger anxiety in children causing meltdowns.
Each day, your child performs a wide variety of tasks that require focus and attention. From getting ready for school in the morning to completing their homework at night, the ability to maintain focus is critical for kids. If your child is easily distracted, has a hard time completing tasks, or is unable to concentrate on a task for an age-appropriate amount of time, this can be another sign that they might be struggling with anxiety.
In a previous post, we reviewed a few ineffective ways to cope with anxiety that adults use to try and beat anxiety. One of these coping mechanisms is anxious avoidance. Children often try to avoid situations that make them feel anxious just like adults do. Think of the child who melts down each morning because they don’t want to go to school. If you notice avoidance behavior patterns in your child, it could be that they are struggling with anxiety and unknowingly trying to control their physiological response to an undesirable event.
Trouble Coping with Change
There are not many people who like change. By their nature, children may have more difficulty adjusting to change than adults, however, the challenge is usually short-lived because children are so resilient. Big changes, such as moving, are sure to have an impact on your child. However, if they struggle with smaller transitions, like those between school and sport activities, it could be that they are having a hard time managing anxious feelings surrounding the change.
Headaches and Stomachaches
The power of the human brain is astounding. In fact, it is so powerful that our thoughts often not only affect our mental attitudes and disposition, but they affect our physical health as well. Two of the most common physical responses to anxiety are headaches and stomachaches, and children are not immune to these physiological responses. If your child experiences either of these on a regular basis and physical causes are ruled out, it could be that anxiety is the underlying cause.
Always keep in mind...
Step number one in dealing with a mental health issue is reaching out for professional help (Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Therapist, etc.).
The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only.
It is not for diagnosing, prognosticating, treatment or prescribing of mental health conditions.
For the treatment of any mental health condition or disease, or drug therapy, please consult your physician or other healthcare providers.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis please call 911 or visit your hospital immediately.
When you’re in a place in your life where you can make positive changes, the techniques Jeremy delivers on this website, in his presentations and in his books may help.