symptoms of anxiety in children

Anxiety In Children: Physical, Emotional, and Behavioral Symptoms

This continues our new series, all about homeschooling a child with anxiety. Today, we discuss the physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of anxiety in our children, as well as how we can help. 


symptoms of anxiety in children


Last week, we talked about the difference between stress, anxiety, and perfectionism, how they all feed into each other, and what we can do to recognize which one we’re dealing with in our children, or even ourselves. 

Today, we’re going to focus on the various symptoms you may be noticing in your child.

The Emotional Symptoms Of Anxiety in Children

Let’s begin with the emotional symptoms of anxiety. 

Emotional Sensitivity

Many anxious kiddos are extremely sensitive. As young kids, they cry easily, are often in tune with others’ emotions, and they’re sensitive towards others. You hear the term ‘highly sensitive person’. It’s not an actual diagnosis. It’s simply a descriptive term  for someone who is tuned to other’s emotions. My own child, who struggles with a generalized anxiety disorder, is extremely sensitive. She’s very intuitive.

Easily Angered

Anxious kids can also be easily angered. 

Sometimes, anger is a way of controlling the situation, because if we can burst out emotionally, we have some control over the situation and can possibly drive reactions down a path that we are expecting. When we lash out, we don’t have to deal with the uncertainty of it. Kids react with anger because they know they can push certain reactions in people around them by being angry.

It’s more of a control thing brought on by the uncertainties of the world.

Related PostWhen Anxiety Looks Like Anger



Extreme Perfectionism

Emotional symptoms of anxiety can look like extreme perfectionism. Perfectionism is also a way of controlling a situation. It’s a compulsive need to be perfect and do everything exactly right. It’s also the measuring of your own worth vs. the ideal. 

Extreme perfectionism can be a sign of anxiety because it’s another way of controlling what’s happening in an uncertain world.

Exaggerated Fears

Kids who are anxious can also have a test anxiety. They can struggle with panic attacks and phobias. They can have exaggerated fears.

An example of an exaggerated fear is a child worried at night because they are concerned their parents won’t be there when they wake up. Exaggerated fears are emotional signs that your child may be struggling with anxiety.


anxiety in children


Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety In Children

Physical symptoms of anxiety can bring headaches and stomach aches. These are the kids who, if they were in school, would be at the nurse’s office all the time. 

Some kids who have some physical symptoms of anxiety may refuse to eat, or they may struggle with excessive eating. Anxiety may also show itself as restlessness, trouble sleeping or staying asleep, distractibility or hyperactivity. Sweating and shaking sensations or tense muscles, are also signs.  Some children also have bathroom difficulties when they’re anxious.

Physical manifestations of anxiety:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Refusal to eat or excessive eating
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Distractibility
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sweating
  • Tense muscles
  • Bathroom difficulties

If you are seeing any of these signs, you may consider consulting a doctor and/or therapist for help, and to rule out any other biological causes. 


symptoms of anxiety


Behavioral Symptoms Of Anxiety In Children

Behavioral symptoms of anxiety can be difficult to discern in our children. 

One example is a child who constantly asks anxious questions.  What if our car breaks down? What if we get into an accident? What if dad goes off on a business trip and never comes back? What if mom goes out for a night with the girls and doesn’t come back? What if, what if, what if – these are kids who are always thinking about the worst case scenario.

Behavioral symptoms of kids with anxiety may also look like avoiding group activities. Conversely, it can look like seeking out group activities because it’s easier to get lost in a crowd and not stand out. 

Often times our anxious kids can look silent and preoccupied, like they’re in their own little world. They may avoid social situations or have emotional outbursts or angry when separating from their parents.

Anxiety is a shape-shifting deceptive cloud that can masquerade as many, many different things. Anxiety is just as different in one person as it is manifesting itself in another.


Talking To Our Children About Their Anxiety

This set of dynamic worksheets will help you work with your child, as they learn more about themselves, their stressors, and the symptoms of anxiety. 

Click here to subscribe


Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast #159: Physical, Emotional, and Behavioral Symptoms Of Anxiety

In this episode of the Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast, Colleen continues a new series, all about anxiety and our atypical kids. This discussion includes information about the physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of anxiety in our children and how we can help. 


Links And Resources From Today’s Show:




What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid's Guide to Accepting ImperfectionThe Book of MistakesMistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions & How They Came to BeThis Is My Life: A Guided journal and Planner for Tweens and TeensRaising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent FamilyRaising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for ChildrenThe Big Book of Kids Activities: 500 Projects That Are the Bestest, Funnest EverWhy I Love Homeschooling Neurodiverse Kids: 25 Parents Share the Joys & Challenges of Educating Their Kids Who Have ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Giftedness, or Are Otherwise Differently WiredLiving with Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and AdultsDifferently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional WorldOn the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted ChildrenBright Not Broken: Gifted Kids, ADHD, and Autism



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