Menu
6 signs your child might have anxiety—and how to help

According to the Child Mind Institute, approximately 23% of children have or have had a psychiatric disorder, and half of all psychiatric illness occurs before the age of 14. Despite those numbers, understanding if your child is experiencing anxiety can be challenging: The signs associated with anxiety can be easily explained away by other external issues, or as "a phase." The classic, oft-referenced sign of anxiety in children is a complaint of a stomach ache—however, there are many other telling behaviors and comments to be on the lookout for.


Please note that this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, so please don't hesitate to reach out to a professional for diagnosis and treatment.

1. Often seeking reassurance and approval

Children who suffer from anxiety often seek reassurance in a manner that seems excessive. Most children enjoy praise from the adults in their lives, but children facing anxiety might appear to seek approval almost constantly. Parents might notice this approval-seeking in relation to academics (for example during homework time) or sports. Children seeking frequent approval are looking to be reassured that things in their lives are going well.

2. Rigidity and control-seeking

Anxious children are often aware of everything in their environment that they do not control, and therefore often look to assert control as often as they can. This might look like a desire to strictly adhere to a routine, or even a preference for toys or other items to be arranged in a particular way. They may display challenging behaviors when these routines are disrupted.

3. Perfectionism

Children struggling with anxiety might do a task over and over until it seems "just so" or until they are given reassurance or approval. This can often be seen during art activities, homework time or sports activities. Doing something repeatedly, in the hopes of making it perfect, can be a way for children to seek control and can reflect a strong desire for approval from others.

4. Preoccupation with disasters or conflict

Some anxious children demonstrate an intense interest in or preoccupation with disasters or conflict, such as war or other types of unrest. This might be in part due to fear of losing access to caregivers or other important people in their lives.

5. Tantrums and other challenging behavior after school

Some children will attempt to "hold it together" or manage their anxiety at school, to follow the rules and behave well. This can result in challenging behavior after school because children are exhausted from the energy it takes to manage their behavior for a full school day. This sometimes manifests in tantrums or "meltdowns" after school that do not have an obvious cause. In these instances, parents can plan a relaxing transition period for children after school and before homework time.

6. High activity level

Active, high energy children are sometimes anxious children. This high activity level is the result of the physical arousal that comes with anxiety. Parents might notice this high level of energy throughout the day but particularly before worry-provoking situations.

So what can you do?

Talk and listen

Parents can also help children identify the signs of anxiety and how they might be experiencing it by discussing the signs with their child and pointing out what they notice in the moment. A parent might say, "I notice your heart is beating fast and you're sweaty." Once children can identify when their anxiety levels are particularly high, children can notice when they need to do something to help them calm themselves.

Support and reassure

Parents can support children who are experiencing anxiety by providing regular reassurance, and also by teaching children strategies—such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, like these.

Seek help

Parents who worry that their child suffers from anxiety are encouraged to pursue the assistance of a mental health professional. A mental health professional can assess to determine whether your child's behaviors are related to an anxiety disorder, another type of disorder that produces similar behaviors, or if your child's behaviors are within the range of what is typical for his or her age.

You might also like:

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

Shop

Is the Belly Bandit helpful for postpartum recovery?

I personally found myself wanting more core support in my early postpartum months.

My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

21 questions to ask your partner instead of, “How was your day?”

2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

Keep reading Show less
Love + Village