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How Parents Can Tell if Their Child is Dealing with Anxiety

Childhood is full of many new experiences and they can be scary to young children. Anxiety is very common in children and adolescents. But many parents wonder how do they know if there little one is dealing with anxiety. Here are the physical, emotional and behavioral signs to look for:

Physical Signs of Anxiety:

-Frequently complains of headaches or stomachaches, even when there is no medical reason for them

-Refuses to eat at daycare or school

-Only use restrooms at home

-Starts to shake and swat during intimidating situations

-Constantly tenses their muscles

-Has trouble falling or staying asleep.


Emotional Signs of Anxiety

-Cries very often

-Extremely sensitive

-Without a clear reason become grouchy or angry

– Is afraid of making even minor mistakes.

-Has extreme test anxiety

-Has panic attacks (or is afraid of having panic attacks).

-Has phobias (about bees, dogs, etc.) and exaggerated fears (about things like natural disasters, etc.).

-Is afraid people will find out about his learning and attention issues (more so than other kids with the same issues).

-Worries about things that are far in the future (for example, a third grader might worry about starting middle school).

-Is worried or afraid during drop-offs (at daycare, school, relatives’ homes, etc.).

-Has frequent nightmares about losing a parent or loved one.

-Gets distracted from playing by his worries and fears.

-Has obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors (finger tapping, hand washing, etc.).

-Is starting to have meltdowns or tantrums. 


Behavioral Signs of Anxiety

-Asks “what if?” constantly. (“What if an earthquake happened?”)

-Avoids participating during circle time or other class activities.

-Remains silent or preoccupied when he’s expected to work with others.

-Refuses to go to school

-Stays inside, alone, at lunch or recess.

-Avoids social situations with peers after school or on weekends (extracurricular activities, birthday parties, etc.).

-Refuses to speak to peers or strangers in stores, restaurants, etc.

-Becomes emotional or angry when separating from parents or loved ones.

-Constantly seeks approval from parents, teachers and friends.

-Says “I can’t do it!” without a real reason.


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