Monday, February 5, 2024

Signs of Anxiety in Children and Teens

It seems like you can’t go anywhere without hearing about the rise of anxiety in our post-pandemic world. While we’ve come a long way by bringing the conversation about mental health to the forefront, we can’t forget that all of the factors that contribute to our anxiety are also having their own separate effects on our kids. 

It is so difficult to try and get inside of our children and teens’ heads and, as parents, we never want to think that even our youngest kids may be struggling with stressors and anxieties. That being said, being aware and being able to get ahead of some of these issues can make all the difference.

How do I know if my child or teen is suffering from anxiety?


Any kind of sleep trouble can be a sign that your kiddo may be suffering from anxiety. Difficulties falling asleep, wetting the bed, and nightmares can all be related to stress and anxious feelings in children. 


Like with adults, anxiety and other Big Feelings can cause changes in appetite in children too. Things like comfort eating when they are not hungry and/or frequent “I’m not hungry”’s at mealtimes are things to keep an eye out for. 


One of the first signs of anxiety in kids is the appearance of physical symptoms. Does your child or teen suddenly seem to be having regular stomach problems or headaches? These are common symptoms in kids who are feeling anxious and sometimes used as excuses to get out of school (or other stressful situations).  


Less patience, constantly feeling nervous, and an inability to cope with unforeseen situations can mean that your child or teen is trying to manage anxiety. 


Has your child become much more clingy lately? New expressions of increased separation anxiety can be a sign that your child is dealing with overwhelming emotions. 


If you have noticed that your child or teen is having difficulties concentrating on the task at hand, it may mean that they are stressing about something that interferes with their ability to focus.


It’s common for kids who are feeling anxious to become more withdrawn. Seeing a drastic change in their self-confidence or self-esteem can be a sign that they need help.


Outbursts or rapid changes in mood can often be the way that anxious thoughts and feelings “come out” for children and teens. 

What can I do? 

Connect with your kids by empathizing with their feelings

Normalize their feelings and focus on the importance of managing not eliminating the anxiety

Give them tools to feel more calm: breathing, mindfulness, grounding techniques 

Model healthy tools for managing anxiety in your day to day life