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Kids Anxiety Symptoms – 10 Things Children Say That Could Mean They Have Anxiety

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As all the children line up to get on the bus to go to school, your kid turns to you and says, “Please, don’t make me go to school, my stomach hurts.” You think to yourself right away, “Oh, no! Not again.” What should be a normal morning routine turns into a tough challenge. Kids Anxiety Symptoms are easy to notice!

Terror is the first thing you notice on your kid’s face when you look at him/her. You want to ease their worry and comfort them. You want to assure them that they have nothing to worry about. But, to every thing you say to them, their reaction is, “I don’t want to go to school. Please, don’t make me go. Please!” (1)

And then, only after you “threaten” to forbid them to use their tablet for one week, do they grudgingly climb onto the bus. And you feel awful.

Well, if any of this sounds familiar to you, know that you aren’t the only parent who watches their kid struggling with anxiety. Anxiety in kids can make both the child having anxiety and their parents feel helpless. This condition can come from anywhere and for no logical reason.

When it comes to children who are struggling with anxiety, you need to know that it can be hard for them to express exactly what is happening to them. You’ll know that something is not right, but it might not be evident that this awful condition is behind it. (2)

Here are 10 things children say that could mean they have anxiety. Certainly, just because they say any of the following things, it doesn’t mean that they have anxiety. But, what is important is that you are always open to the possibility.

1. “My belly hurts.”

If your child tends to say this before something which is likely to arouse anxiety and other signs of anxiety are present, such as a racing heart, tense muscles, flushed cheeks, panic attacks, nausea, etc., know that anxiety might be behind it.

2. “I don’t feel well. I feel like I’m going to vomit.”

Nausea is a normal and very common part of anxiety. But, it can feel terrible. So, if this is something your child tends to tell you before going to school or doing something stressful, and there doesn’t appear to be any other symptom of illness, know that their nausea might be coming from their anxiety.

3. “I am not hungry.”

During anxiety, the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events, sends your body a message to slow down so as to save energy when it thinks that there is some kind of danger. So, when the digestive system shuts down to save energy, the need to eat shuts down, too. Of course, this is just temporary.

4. “I’m sad and I don’t know why.”       

The amygdala controls strong emotions, too. When your child’s anxiety reaches its peak, sadness can switch to high volume, too. And this is not necessarily an indication that something sad has occurred. It may only mean that their brain is on high alert.

5. “But, what if …?”

If this is what you often hear your kid say, know that the what-ifs are just an attempt by your child’s anxious brain to stay safe and protected by eliminating as many unknown situations and risks as possible.

You can help inhibit their worries by asking them to tell you what they think will happen. This question will cause the pre-frontal cortex (a part of the brain which is more rational) to activate.

6. “I don’t want to go to school.”

Since anxiety comes from a region of the brain which runs on instinct, it does not always appear rational. This means that if the brain thinks there’s some kind of danger, it doesn’t want you to spend a lot of time considering what your options are – it only wants to get you safe.

That’s the reason why your child may refuse to go to school even when there appear to be no other problems with school, teachers, or friends.

7. “I can’t sleep.”

Although an anxious brain can keep itself busy 24/7, its most favorite time to play is at night – the time when there isn’t anything to distract you from anxiety.

8. “My arms/legs hurt.”

When struggling with anxious thoughts, children might not realize that they are tensing. This can make their legs and arms feel stiff, weak, or achy. You can help them relieve their tension by guiding them through muscle relaxation exercises.

9. “I am exhausted.”

An anxious brain can keep children awake at night with constant racing and intrusive thoughts. Dealing with such thoughts when their entire body is telling them to rest is really exhausting and draining. Practicing mindfulness can help them relieve their tiredness.  

10. “I want you to stay with me.”

Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with your child wanting to stay close to you, but if this always happens before you go to work or wherever, it can turn into a huge problem.

Separation anxiety is caused by a fear that something bad might happen to you while you’re not around them. Fortunately, this fear doesn’t last long. It’s temporary and as soon as your child realizes that both they and you are okay when you aren’t there, their anxiety will ease.