It’s Children’s Mental Health Week from the 6th to 12th of February 2023. Children’s health is a cause very close to me. Unfortunately, I suffered from anxiety in childhood and didn’t get the help that I needed. My parents took me to the GP when I was 10 and felt sick before school each morning. It was around the time I took the eleven-plus and I think this triggered my anxiety. However, the doctor just dismissed it as ‘school phobia’. It was quite infuriating when he told them that I was probably just making up feeling sick to try and get out of going to school. I wasn’t though, I loved primary school! I loved every class except maths although I was pretty good at it, had a lovely best friend I’m still in touch with and sometimes we even got to listen to Avril Lavigne during art class. Fortunately, a lot has changed over the last 20 years or so and there seems to be more awareness and support available now than there was for me.
Now, obviously I’m not a doctor but I do know many of the signs of clinical anxiety in children having suffered it first hand. Here are some of the tell-tale signs you should look out for if you are concerned:
1. Your child is struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep
As adults, our sleep is effected by stress in our lives. The same is true of children. Therefore, if you notice they’re having trouble falling asleep or waking during the night, they may be anxious about something. They may also experience bad dreams.
2. If your child seems tense or fidgety
If your child is anxious, it’s only natural that they could come across as tense. Equally, they could also be fidgety. As a child, I had an anxious habit of scraping my fingernails across the palms of my hands repeatedly. Perhaps your child has a similar tell that gives them an physical outlet or helps them to feel calmer.
3. If they’re making frequent trips to the toilet
I think everyone has experienced needing a nervous wee before a job interview or similar! Stress can also cause many of us to have loose bowels, thanks to the fight or flight response. It’s just the same for children, so you may notice them heading to the loo more frequently.
4. If your child seems angry and gets irritable quickly
Anxiety is a lot to deal with, so your child may often appear irritable or have a short temper. It’s quite understandable when you think about how anxiety can make you feel out of control. It’s possible that something has happened out of their control that has made them irritated as it’s increased their anxiety.
5. If your child withdraws themselves from activities with family and friends
This is perhaps one of the most noticeable signs children might exhibit. It could be that they’re too anxious to participate in the activity, or that their anxiety is causing them to withdraw into themselves as it can make you feel like you’re in a bubble. After my Grandad died when I was a teen, this was one of my biggest signs. Unfortunately I lost some friends, but I’m still great friends with those who stuck by me and I really appreciate it.
6. If your child cries often
Feeling anxious is a horrible state of mind to be in. Getting anxious about things can be very upsetting, plus suffering from anxiety itself can give you a negative outlook on life and yourself. Therefore, another sign to look out is if your child seems to be upset or crying more.
7. If your child complains of nausea and/or headaches frequently
Stress and anxiety often display themselves in headaches and nausea. Therefore, if your child seems to be suffering from these a lot, it could be another indication of anxiety. As I mentioned previously, I used to suffer from nausea a lot when I had anxiety as a child. I also got a lot of headaches.
8. If your child is eating too much or too little
Anxiety and the nausea it can cause can make it difficult to eat. But on the other hand, eating can also bring comfort. Therefore, another thing to watch out for is a change of eating habits in your child.
9. Wetting the bed
Was your child previously dry at night, but has now begun wetting the bed? This can also be down to anxiety.
10. If your child seems to find it difficult to concentrate
It can be tough to concentrate with a mind that’s swimming with worry. Struggling to concentrate at school or even on hobbies at home can be yet another sign of anxiety.
If your child is exhibiting a combination of these symptoms and you think they may have anxiety, please go to see a doctor and make sure it’s taken seriously to ensure they get the help they need. You can also get more information on the NHS website.
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40 thoughts on “10 Signs Your Child May Have Anxiety”
Great points, anxiety is so often considered an adult problem but it’s important to realise kids can go through it too and they are far less equipped to deal with it x
What a great post, thank you so much for sharing. It’s really good to know what signs to look out for. Thanks for sharing for #marvmondays
What a handy list to refer to, I can see some of these some of the time in all my children but I think we all have a little anxiety and that is just part of being human. To spot to many signs means time to act. #MarvMondays
I’m so glad you posted this! My little boy ticks all of these points and sometimes I find it hard to calm him down as he gets so upset/frustrated he seems to reach a level were there’s no going back. I remember my mother-in law saying he could be Autistic when he was only small (he hasn’t) as he has always been very fidgety/emotional. He swims on a Saturday and he will start worrying about it with toilet trips and talking about it on the Wednesday!
My girls both suffer from it from time to time. Thankfully not all the time. Usually when something new is coming up that they are unsure of – like swimming lesson, or the SATs tests. It can just make you feel so awful to see them worried about things. Great post. Sarah #mg
Solid info here- I feel like bc I am prone to anxiety I am hypersensitive to the facts that the girls might have some. Esp. the middle child.
Absolutely – I remember experiencing high levels of anxiety when I was about 6 years old. I had no idea how to deal with any of it until I was in my late teens x
Thank you and thanks for commenting 🙂 x
Yes – some level of anxiety is healthy. After all, it stops us from doing some really silly things. It’s definitely time to act though if there’s a combination of these, as you said 🙂 Thanks for commenting x
Oh, I’m sorry to hear he gets so worried about going swimming 🙁 Lots of different conditions overlap, which makes things more difficult. I know Autism often overlaps with anxiety, but also lots of mental health conditions have similar symptoms to others. I hope perhaps as he grows up he might grow out of it or learn to control his emotions more.
Thanks for commenting 🙂
I’m glad they don’t suffer all the time – as a child mine was always mainly around new or stressful things too like SATs, the eleven plus and going to secondary school. I’m hoping it won’t pass on to my daughter.
Have you tried Rescue Remedy for them? It always helped to calm me down as a child.
Thanks for commenting 🙂 x
It’s possible I guess, I think anxiety often runs in families unfortunately! Thank you for commenting 🙂 x
Thank you for this information. My eldest daughter (6) is definitely sensitive and a worrier (just like me) so I am keeping a close eye on how she progresses, but at the moment, I think she is doing okay. I think it’s definitely important to be aware of the symptoms, though. #MarvMondays
Some of us are more sensitive than others and it’s definitely a good idea to just be aware of the symptoms in case they do develop 🙂 Fingers crossed they won’t 🙂 Thank you for your comment x
I see a great deal of anxiety in some of the children I teach Taekwon-do to. Much of it driven by pressure and fear of failure. Parents need to take a small step back and let their children breathe a little. Thank you for sharing these signs. Alison x #mg
If it’s the case that they’re scared of failing, I expect it’s quite apparent when they’re doing Taekwon-do. Thank you for your comment x
Great info here. It’s so important to point out the symptoms. #MarvMondays
I agree! 🙂 Thanks for your comment x
Excellent post! When child suffer from anxiety it can often be dismissed. It’s important to remember that these things can affect them too #marvmondays
Yes, I know how easily it was dismissed with me 🙁 Thank you and thanks for your comment xx
Me again poppin back in at dreamteam
Hi, good to have you back again! 🙂 Thank you for your comment xx
Thank you for putting this list together, it is really helpful. Parenting and teaching our children about their feelings is hard as trying to balance what is them learning about what butterflies in their tummy are or if something is wrong. #marvmondays
Indeed, it’s all a balancing act but knowing the signs of things helps 🙂 Thank you for your comment xx
Thanks for sharing these warning signs. I’m still very little but my mummy will watch me when I start school x #marvmondays
Thank you for your comment 🙂 x
Such an important week and post. this is really helpful as I’m not really sure parents know what to look for… and if you’re not looking it’s even harder to recognise and help. We run a linky for autism/SEND/mental health posts called #spectrumsunday – we’d love for you to join us if you ever wish to share your posts with us. #brillblogposts
Definitely. I think it’s the same with lots of conditions, this is just one I’ve experienced myself. The linky sounds great, I’ll pop along to it 🙂 Thank you for your comment x
I didn’t realise that children could suffer from anxiety either until it happened to us. Luckily the help is much better now as I think I also had it as a child and it was dismissed. Thanks for being such an important part of the #bigpinklink
I’m so glad to hear things have improved. Thanks and thank you for your comment x
Thanks for sharing these signs to look out for. Sorry to hear you had anxiety going to school. It must have been horrible to deal with at such a young age. It’s good to know that these days there is a lot of support and places to to turn to if needed. Thank you for linking up to the #dreamteam x
Thank you Annette, it was quite horrific – especially as I didn’t get the medical help I needed. It’s good to hear things have improved. Thanks for your comment xx
I was recently having this conversation with one of my best friends, her usually happy confident 9 (almost 10) year old has started having trouble going to bed, has been saying she feels sad for no reason, wanting to sleep with her mum, and even refusing ice-cream. My daughter Aspen went through a similar stage around age 10 that latest for around 20 months, she is much better now. We took her to counselling, and my friend is thinking of seeking help for her daughter. It is so hard when they are so confused as to why this is even happening. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing with #mg
I think it can be a difficult time for children as there are a lot of changes. I’m glad your daughter is much better now. Thank you for commenting xx
And of course, thanks for linking it to our #spectrumsunday!
Having taught many children in this situation I am so glad that you have written this post. It is something we all need to understand more and be more aware of. Thank you so much for sharing it with us here at #PostsFromTheHeart
Definitely, it would have been brilliant if people who taught me had been much more aware. Thank you for your comment xx
Thanks for sharing. This is so handy.
I do not have kids yet, but since I work with them it is good to realize the symptons of anxiety with kids.
I presume you’ve never had the ‘pleasure’ of trying to get health professionals to take your concerns about your anxious child seriously? There is little to no mental health support for our kids today. What little resources there are are seriously overstretched and practically unreachable. What a naive blog post. I hope you never have to experience the battles that we have as a family.
You clearly haven’t read this post properly and read about my own personal struggle to be taken seriously as a child.