web analytics

Some Symptoms of Anxiety in Children

*** Please note: This page will make much more sense if you first read the story of how I helped my children overcome child anxiety. ***

Anxiety in children can put a real dent in the joy of life for any kid – and any parent. These are some of the things to look out for if you are worried that your child may have child anxiety or might develop it.

My kids showed some of these signs, but not all. I think that any one of these would give cause for concern if it is strong enough, but I also think that all these things are normal for kids to experience once in a while, if it’s not very strong or it passes quickly.

I also understand that some of the symptoms can be indications that the child has depression, and not anxiety.

Please note that I’m not a health care professional – this is not medical advice!

I think that most parents are well enough in tune with their kids to see when they are changing in a way that’s not good. But those changes can take time, and sometimes you just don’t discover what’s going on until the problem has gotten too big to miss. That’s the way it was for us and our oldest son – I think we were too slow to realize that his shyness had become far too strong. We were able to reverse it, but I think we could have spared our son some negative experiences if we had spotted the severity of the problem sooner.

Here are some of the symptoms of child anxiety:

  • A strong need for constant reassurance. Our daughter had this, to some extent. She would ask permission for the tiniest things and was eager to be praised. The need went away as soon as we started The Anxiety-Free Child.
  • Nausea. I don’t think any of our kids had this symptom, but Justin may have without telling us. He certainly didn’t throw up, but his anxiety before social events was probably almost strong enough that some nausea could have occurred.
  • Sweating. I have seen this listed as a symptom for anxiety, but I think it’s more relevant for anxiety in adults. I may be wrong, though. It’s just that cold sweat in kids seems a little unusual.
  • Perfectionism. Our daughter had a little of this symptom, but I think it’s more common in older kids. I think that some perfectionism can be okay, but too much is clearly not good. Where do you draw the line? I don’t know.
  • Abnormally conformist. As I understand it, this means being too eager to fit in and do what you’re told. This is also pretty hard to spot, I think. All kids want to be like everyone else, don’t they? I don’t know how strong this have to be before it can indicate child anxiety. Pretty strong, I guess.
  • Often claims to have aches and pains. This was big with our daughter, especially before some social thing that she dreaded or if I was leaving the house for any reason. Sure, kids do really have stomachaches and headaches, but if it gets to often or only at specific times, it is probably a symptom of child anxiety.
  • Excessive shyness. Unfortunately, we didn’t recognize this symptom in our son for a long time. Sure, we knew he was shy, but we didn’t really know how bad it was getting until it was too obvious to miss. I think all kids are shy sometimes, but they should thaw up pretty quickly in most situations. I also think this is one of the most important clues of child anxiety to not miss
  • Socially mute. I think this is what happens when the kid has gotten too shy. If they clam up totally for a long time, there is a really good reason to investigate further. They may be developing a real anxiety problem.
  • Seems worried. As kids grow older, they will seem to worry more about things that could go wrong. Our son especially worried about future events, and our daughter worried about her parents leaving her. I’m not sure how much worry is too much, but it may be obvious if the child is constantly seeking reassurence.
  • Unusually quiet. Kids that worry and think about negative stuff tend to get quiet, as any parent knows. Too much of this could be an indication of child anxiety.
  • Overreaction to criticism. No kid likes to be criticized, but if even a gentle comment by a parent sets her off, then it could be a symptom. But I have seen kids who were not the least bit anxious react pretty strongly to criticism, too. A lot of it depends on how it’s given, if it’s fair and so on.
  • Doesn’t like routine changes. A child that’s not anxious has no trouble adjusting to new routines in their daily lives. I think a too strong reaction here might be a pretty good sign that some anxiety is present.
  • Strong anxiety ahead of planned social events. Again, this was a big one for our son. He would get really quiet days before family parties, classmates’ birthdays and things like that. Even routine things like his boyscout meetings worried him. He never got to the stage where he would cry, but I don’t think the tears were always far away.
  • Tantrums for no apparent reason. Our daughter had some of these seemingly irrational tantrums that seemed to go on for a long time. I think that very occasionally, these can be okay or even healthy, because they are a way for a young child to assert themselves, which is important to learn. But too much is definitely a sign of something that needs to be looked at more closely.
  • Sleeping trouble. Our son had this, particularly ahead of an event he dreaded. It was pretty easy to spot, but not so easy to handle.

To learn more about these symptoms and child anxiety, I highly recommend The Anxiety-Free Child Program. It helped both my son and my daughter get rid of their child anxiety, as I have explained here.

2 Responses to “Some Symptoms of Anxiety in Children”

  1. Taylor says:

    um im not a mom or anything im 11 and no one knows but my best friend im not the kind of person who eats anymore when i look at the food i feel sick i get stomachaches and i get headaches all the time i go crazy and get trantrums all the time and i have sleeping problems all the time every night and the bags i have under my eyes get darker and darker my dad only knows that im depressed and knows that i dont sleep but you know and im not really the talkative type anymore im always quiet now i have almost all of these symptoms would that mean im anorexic and does it mean i have anxiety?

    • Ann says:

      Hi and thank you for your question.
      I’m not a doctor or health care expert, and I’m not qualified to pass out diagnoses. So I can’t really tell you if you have anxiety or anorexia or anything.

      But from what you wrote, I think it may be a good idea for you to talk to someone about how you feel, especially if you have trouble eating and you feel depressed.

      I think you should tell your parents about everything you feel is wrong, so that they can help you. It seems your dad already knows a little bit about it, but he may not know all of it.

      Another thing you can do is see the school nurse and tell her about it – it is her job to help students with things exactly like that.

      You may also want to tell a teacher or any other responsible adult in your life – maybe your friend’s parents, if your own parents don’t quite understand or don’t give you the help you need.

      It’s never a good idea to go through something like what you describe on your own, especially at your age. Often, the best thing we can do when we have some things in our lives that aren’t quite right is get someone to help us a little. A LOT of kids your age need some help with things like that, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help or letting people know that you’re having a difficult time.

      Many of the adults in your life will want to help you, and I think it’s important that you get a little help now. Sometimes, a challenge that seems difficult for a kid can be easier for an adult to help you with.

      I wish you the best of luck, whatever you choose to do :)

Leave a Reply