10 Signs Your Child May Have Anxiety

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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10 Signs Your Child May Have Anxiety

40 thoughts on “10 Signs Your Child May Have Anxiety”

  1. 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

  2. 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!


  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. You clearly haven’t read this post properly and read about my own personal struggle to be taken seriously as a child.

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