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  1. Thanks for bringing attention to childhood anxiety. Both of my kids have anxiety and it can be crippling if not helped.

  2. My child was just recently diagnosed and is being treated for anxiety. I was the same way, just knew something wasn’t quite right but couldn’t get anyone to take the “mother’s intuition” seriously. At the advice of my child’s therapist we ordered a book called “It’s Not a Saber-Tooth”. It’s a great book to help children & parent’s understand the body’s response to anxious thoughts. As someone who knew very little on this topic I have found it to be a great resource.

  3. Margarita says:

    We’re right there with you. In my case though, I’m having trouble getting strategies to treat the anxiety. My kid is 9. We have psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists in the mix but he won’t talk to them. Thoughts?

    1. Catherine says:

      Find new ones, or perhaps one that uses pet therapy to engage with the child. Keep trying, don’t give up to you find the right team.

    2. Tapasii holden says:

      Find ways to authentically connect. Meet him at his level in interests he has. You might feel silly or strange with “play”, but the best way I believe is to let your child know you are there by joining them where they are. Anxiety can feel lonely They can feel mistrust that nobody understands. And maybe at this point nobody really does (that’s why you want him to open up to therapists). I had an extremely anxious daughter (who is a recovering young adult) and wish I could go back to connect more now.

  4. This is a great post! My once fearless daughter developed debilitating anxiety in the first grade. She would eloped, avoid tasks (especially math and writing). It seemed her anxiety took over our world. She was sick a lot that year, had strep 5 times. She was diagnosed the next year with PANDAS/PANs. This is a rarely talked about autoimmune disease, that isn’t really rare at all. . Please take a minute to learn about PANDAS/PANs-visit:
    When anxiety escalates to a point in your child and you think it came out of nowhere and you can’t figure out how it’s taken over their and you life, please rule out PANs/PANDAS.

  5. My child has similar symptoms to these. How is this being treated? Medication? I have a fear of medicating my child this early in life but want to make sure she doesn’t grow up with issues.

    1. Find a local mental health therapist!!! Behavior therapy is an absolute life saver!!

  6. My child is in therapy for anxiety. One dr diagnosed her at 6 with anxiety and OCD symptoms and qe did therapy a little while and then it seemed to get better after her step brother entered the picture. He was a couple years older and a great support. Then we lost him in a car accident and her world turned upside dow. We are back in therapy but I suggest always going to and staying in some mental health program. We had trouble with the school helping with absences but I finally insisted on a 504 plan or I would report them to IDEA and I got it! There are many resources out there. DO NOT BE AFRAID to fight fornyour child! They need your support if they have anxiety! They have to deal with enough on thier own!

  7. Thank you so much! Im just beginning to understand that my 8 year old daughter has anxiety. The symptoms have always been there i just didnt realize it was anxiety. Do you have any ideas of how to help her?

  8. I was searching for the good topic to research and read, I got it this article on your blog, Thank you so much.

  9. Awesome post and definitive guide. Especially loved the 15 phrases. Parents should be more careful about anxiety. Maybe, you are lucky and expert enough to diagnose anxiety but many of us can’t do it. Whatever, Thanks for the great post and hope your daughter is fine now.

  10. my children both have some degree of anxiety and this list can be extremely helpful to parents who may be wondering if their children do too.

  11. Thank you for writing this article. I am just wondering what age range the checklist is suited for? I have a feeling that my son might have anxiety but he is only 3.5 years old. I’ve spoken to his ped about it and she seems to think this is developmentally typical for his age and that he will grow out of it. I’d like to bring this checklist to her if it’s suited for his age.

    1. Hi Jo Jo, I can’t reply to every comment but noticed yours here today and wanted to chime in. The sources linked from each item in this list don’t specify ages. They refer to these being symptoms in children and teenagers. If you’re noticing these signs in your child, the best thing to do would be to take notes on what you’re seeing and then bring it up with your child’s primary care doctor. But since it sounds like you’ve already done that, it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion. You can ask around to find out which doctors in your area have experience with childhood mental health issues. For example, in a Facebook group for parents in my area, I asked for recommendations of doctors who had helped other parents’ kids with mental health issues. Hope that helps. <3

  12. Wow, I wish this had come out when I was young. I can make sense of the way I was. I wish I had known this with my kids. I now notice some of this in them.

  13. Oh wow. I definitely have wondered about my oldest child a bit and now after reading this, I think she does struggle with a little bit of anxiety! Thank you for bringing awareness to this topic.

  14. My son was diagnosed with anxiety in 6th grade, was miserable prior to medication. It did help but now that he is 17 he refuses to take it anymore. He has been in trouble and has been caught drinking several times. He stays so angry and moody. Any suggestions on how to get him to take the medication again? He feels that means something is wrong with him and refuses to accept he does need the medication. Please help I’m so desperate!

  15. Erin Kelley says:

    I echo someone else’s comment — what age is this for?

    1. Hi Erin, the sources linked from each item in this list don’t specify ages. They refer to these being symptoms in children and teenagers. If you’re noticing these signs in your child, the best thing to do would be to take notes on what you’re seeing and then bring it up with your child’s primary care doctor. Hope that helps. <3

  16. I understand the ups and downs of all of this and want to offer some additional insight. My anxious kids are now young adults (28, 26, 23 and 12) and what I wish I knew when they were young is this:
    1. In the case of two of them, learning disabilities presented themselves, as well. It is difficult to disentangle the emotional fallout from dyslexia or dysgraphia and anxiety. So, my advice is to research both in parallel. Very often these are highly intelligent children that function well in some areas but are so acutely aware that they are “different” that anxiety becomes a symptom of the learning difference. Treating just the anxiety won’t help – addressing an underlying learning issue may ease anxiety.
    2. Anxiety can be circumstantial or genetic. Sometimes anxious kids are highly empathetic and don’t know how to process emotions. In my case, I was a high functioning anxious person and my children were picking up and emulating the energy I was bringing to the situation. Addressing the child’s system without addrsssing the family system will have limited benefits. I finally figured this out with my 4th… where energy became a “thing” that we talked about. We handled anxiety as a problem to be solved and advocated for.
    All of my children have learned to self advocate which is crucial to managing this lifelong issue. They are successful and self aware and one is now a mental health counselor due to her journey. Excellent article… I wish I knew them what I know – and you know – now.

  17. I was an extremely anxious child who was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. As a child, I exhibited many of the symptoms described in this article. For years, I was treated for anxiety, and later depression, only to learn that they were byproducts of my ADHD that I’d unknowingly had since childhood. Now that the ADHD is being treated, my anxiety has significantly diminished. Im not suggesting that all children with anxiety have ADHD, but rather that it is very common for clinicians to diagnose and treat anxiety and/or depression in both children and adults without considering an underlying cause. “You’re just an anxious person by nature” is what I heard from professionals all of my teenage and adult life. So essentially, as in my case, the wrong symptoms often end up being treated. Just some food for thought when treating anxiety &/or depression in people of all ages. Thanks for a great article!

  18. Amy Winters says:

    My sister has noticed that her daughter overreacts when something happens that wasn’t part of a given plan. As I was reading your article, you state that every child can experience anxious feelings and that it could be a sign of an underlying disorder. My sister was thinking about taking her to behavioral therapy to see if that will help her with her feelings.

  19. I believe my 9 year old daughter has anxiety. Can her pediatrician diagnose her or do we have to talk to a therapist of some sort to be diagnosed? Thanks for all of the wonderful information.

    1. Hi Anna, I believe to get a formal diagnosis, you need to go to a psychiatrist. However, if that’s not something you can do, your pediatrician will still be an excellent resource. It’s a great first step to see your child’s regular doctor. Hope that helps. <3

  20. Rachel Doyle says:

    My daughter experiences lots of these symptoms. She’s just turned 5! We are making great progress but what I’ve learned is that trauma early in life can lead to anxiety and MANY other difficulties. What we as parents must realize that TRAUMA isn’t just physical and it’s not just for abused kids, foster kids, etc… Kids of divorce have trauma, kids who experienced a traumatic birth, kids whose mother experienced lots of stress in pregnancy (the mom’s stress hormones affect the baby’s stress hormone levels)….
    Truth is, we’ve all experienced traumatic things that have affected our brains.

    I HIGHLY recommend the following books to help give you insight and wisdom to give your child “felt safety.” First of all, research Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. Cross who developed TBRI-trust based relational intervention. There are lots of YouTube videos, too. Awesome conferences available from Show Hope.
    Books that I have loved “The Whole Brained Child”. “No Drama Discipline” and “The Connected Child”. I’ve been amazed at how this is changing my home and my relationship with my daughter. I can’t recommend it enough!!

  21. Thank you for your post on anxiety in children. I suspect my 5 year-old child may have anxiety issues but have not yet had a formal diagnosis. I thought I would share another condition which is associated with anxiety in young children- Pollakiuria.
    Last year when my daughter was 4 years-old she had an episode of Pollakiuria- which is sudden frequent urination in a child who was previously toilet trained. This does not mean accidents. She would ask to go sit on the toilet every 5-10 min and stay there complaining of the urge to urinate but having difficulty producing any urine. We saw a renal specialist and exams showed her renal function was not impaired. When learning about Pollakiuria I found that it is associated with anxiety. For instance, one sign is a child expressing thoughts about a parent dying. At the time my 4 year-old was telling me this daily. She was telling me things like “I will miss you when you die. Who will take care of me when you die?” I suspect anxiety may have been an underlying cause of her episode of Pollakiuria. Her urinary symptoms resolved after a few months and she is doing well with that now. That physical manifestation of anxiety has made me more aware of her mental health. I hope normalizing discussions on mental health will help us all find the help we need to thrive.