Recognizing Anxiety in Children

by Briana Marie
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The health of our children is one of our primary concerns as they grow.

We worry about them.

We do what we can to keep them away from illnesses and diseases.

We wrap them up in the winter and keep them home when they start to feel unwell.

We get them vaccinated, we make sure they eat healthily, and we do what we can to boost their immune system.

But, what about their mental health?

We drop everything to take care of them at the first sign of a fever, but do we take so much care of their mental health?

Or, are you guilty of giving it little thought? Of assuming that they are happy because they are well cared for and having lots of fun? You’re certainly not alone if that is the case.

anxiety in children

Collaborative post. Post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure can be viewed here. 

Major League Mommy is an informational site and much of the information shared on this site is based on my personal experiences. The resources shared on this site are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be used as a replacement for a trained and professional medical/ mental health care professional. 

Major League Mommy cannot be held responsible if you choose to use the information provided. Please always consult a trained mental health professional or physician before making any decision regarding treatment of yourself or others.

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Unfortunately, more children than ever before are suffering from mental health conditions. The pressures on our children are greater than they once might have been.

Children today are sent home from school with homework as young as five. They face exams as soon as they have started school. They are being forced to seriously consider their future prospects from a young age. And that’s just at school.

At home, most children are spending time online when they are as young as three and four. They might have social media accounts before they are teenagers, and even young children can feel the pressures of being online.

They might spend time comparing themselves to people that they see online, being too young to realize that all of those Instagram pictures have been filtered and photoshopped and that the comparison is not a fair one.

All of these pressures can lead to depression and anxiety. As parents and carers, it is important that we are able to recognize the symptoms of anxiety, so that we can offer our children the support that they need, using helpful tips to guide our efforts.

anxiety symptoms in children


Anxiety Symptoms to Look Out For in Children

Change in Appetite

A change in appetite is one of the first signs that something is wrong.

In younger children, it’s also one of the easiest to spot. Older children might try to hide a change in eating habits, either eating alone or disguising what they’ve actually eaten at mealtimes. But a dramatic weight gain or loss, and a shift in mood at mealtimes could still be noticeable.

Reluctance to Go to School

All children have the occasional day when they don’t want to go to school – like when they are tired, they have a project to hand in that they are worried about, or an exam that’s making them nervous.

But, sometimes it’s more than that.

If a child that has previously enjoyed school suddenly starts making up reasons not to go or getting upset in the mornings when it’s time to leave, it might be a sign that there is something at school that is upsetting them.


anxious child

Spells of isolation aren’t uncommon in children of any age. Even young children and toddlers sometimes like being alone and enjoy their own company as they explore their imagination.

The kind of isolation that can be a sign of mental health issues is more. It’s a constant need to be alone. It’s suddenly not wanting to take part in hobbies or spend time with friends. It’s a complete change in outlook and enjoyment of company.

Change in Behavior

Changes in behavior are also frequent. Children change and grow. Their personalities change as they age and learn, and children are allowed to have moods, just like the rest of us.

You shouldn’t assume that a bit of bad behavior or the odd mood swing is something more serious. But, it can be a warning sign. If your child’s behavior changes dramatically very quickly and doesn’t improve depending on what they are doing, then it might be worth having a chat with them about it or trying to find the cause.

Sleep Issues

Most children sleep well. Anxiety, however, can cause them to sleep much more or much less than usual.

Some children suffering from anxiety find that they can’t sleep at night. They lie awake worrying and toss and turn into the night, just like a worried adult would. Others sleep more or seem to, as they take comfort in the privacy and peace of their beds.

A Lack of Confidence

Some children are naturally more confident than others, so if your child has always been reluctant to try new things, it’s probably just a part of who they are.

If, however, they’ve previously jumped into new things, and now they are suddenly more clingy and less likely to have a go, their anxiety might be affecting their self-esteem and causing them to worry.

General Anxiety Vs. Panic Attack

Infographic provided by MD Infusions, a Chicago ketamine clinic

Did you find this post helpful? We would love to know if your child has been diagnosed with anxiety, or is showing signs of anxiety, and what are some things you do to help them cope. Feel free to share in the comments. 


  • Briana Marie

    Briana Marie is a mental health and financial literacy advocate, and founder of Major League Mommy. In her spare time, Briana enjoys yoga, travel, and spending time with her Husband and two daughters.

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