Warning Signs of Anxiety in Kids

Children with anxiety may have OCD-like actions. Did you know that having OCD-like behaviors may be a sign of anxiety in children? These thoughts are not… Trista - September 25, 2019
Performing OCD-like behaviors bring a momentary sense of relaxation. Shutterstock

Children with anxiety may have OCD-like actions.

Did you know that having OCD-like behaviors may be a sign of anxiety in children? These thoughts are not wanted and may be linked to fears such as touching dirty objects due to a preoccupation with dirt or germs. The child may also experience compulsive rituals such as washing their hands multiple times. While the child may not understand why they do these rituals, they feel compelled to do them. They may also feel embarrassed that the behaviors occur and can’t be controlled.

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Washing your hands too often is not the only OCD action. There are multiple things a person can do that would be considered obsessive-compulsive. For example, OCD-like activities may also include compulsive behaviors such as hoarding objects or repeated doubts. Does your child display any of these actions? Although you might think it is good hygiene or just a quirky behavior, you might want to pay close attention. If you suspect your child has OCD or anxiety, you should make an appointment with the pediatrician.

Screaming, yelling, or fighting others can be a sign of anxiety in children. Shutterstock

Disruptive behavior may be a sign of anxiety.

Everyone has a bad day sometimes, kids and adults alike. Furthermore, this is perfectly fine because nobody is happy every single day. It is normal to have a range of emotions from sadness to anger, depending on what the day brings. However, does your kid often have disruptive behavior more than not? Even when nothing provokes it? While typically acting out may not be something we associate with anxiety, it is possible. There are particular signs to look for in disruptive behavior that might be a result of anxiety.

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If a student is compulsively kicking the kid’s chair in front of him or throwing a tantrum when the schedule is ignored, it may be anxiety. Anxiety can make kids more aggressive. When children feel upset or threatened and don’t know how to handle their feelings, they are more likely to be disruptive. This action may include fighting other kids, throwing things, or pushing over a desk because they’re feeling out of control. Suppose your child’s teacher explains some of these behaviors to you during a conference. Please consider these notes.

Anxious children are often more than likely to ask many questions, usually the same ones. Shutterstock

Anxiety may cause children to ask many questions.

Children can be full of all kinds of questions. Sometimes they are full of the same question. That goes double if your little one is around five years old. Furthermore, the questions can range from usual to outrageous within the same conversation. Many times asking so many questions is chalked up to the child being curious; sometimes, it may be a sign of anxiety. Did you know that? It is essential to pay attention to these slight differences to determine if it is just curiosity or anxiety. You can consult with a doctor if you are unsure.

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How could this action be a sign of anxiety in children? Kids who are feeling anxious might ask many questions, including repetitive ones because they worry and want reassurance. By asking the same question over and over, the child can feel more comfortable and attempt to get the relief they’re seeking. Other times, a child may ask many different questions because they feel insecure and seek answers. Keep reading about other ways children may reach out for attention without knowing it.

Visiting the school nurse can become a daily event for anxious children. Shutterstock

Frequent trips to the school nurse might be a questionable sign.

Children with anxiety may make frequent trips to the school nurse with headaches, nausea, or stomach pains. Anxiety can manifest in physical complaints just as often as in psychological complaints. Unexplained headaches, nausea, stomachaches, or even vomiting could be signs of stress in children. Children may also feel the need to escape their classrooms if they feel anxious, and the school nurse’s office may be a safe place for them to relax. Does your child often do things like this during school? If your teacher reports this behavior to you, make sure you listen closely.

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Other signs that might present themselves during trips to the school nurse include a racing heart and sweaty palms without having any physical activity present. They might also complain of tense muscles. Do you notice your child gets out of breath, too, while these other symptoms are present? It might be time to visit the doctor and discuss anxiety with your child. There are other behaviors children might exhibit during school that are signs of anxiety. Keep reading to learn about what you should look for in your school-age child.

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Not turning in homework can be a cause for concern.

School can be difficult, especially if your children have to participate in some form of virtual learning. Some kids take to school like a duck in water, with hardly any homework. When they do have school assignments, they can finish quickly and get a good grade. However, other students struggle with academics. That does not mean C-average students all have anxiety. However, when a child doesn’t turn in their homework, it’s because they haven’t done it; however, it could also be because they are worried it isn’t good enough.

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Anxiety can often lead to second-guessing, where the child spends so much time questioning their work and answers that it never gets finished. An anxious child might erase his work over and over until there’s a hole in the paper. Children may begin to worry about their homework assignments or upcoming tests much earlier than other students. Worrying about this upcoming assignment for much longer than their peers can often hinder their ability to complete the task at hand. Make sure you keep track of your kid’s projects and if they are turning everything in on time.

Children who are tired the majority of the time may be trying to communicate something bigger. Shutterstock

Fatigue and low energy can be warning signs of anxiety.

Children often complain of being tired. Usually, it’s for simple reasons – it’s the end of a busy day or because they stayed up too late the night before. It can sometimes be an excuse when they’re trying to get out of doing something they don’t want to do. Depending on your kid’s age, you might go through a period where bedtime is always a sad time. They don’t want to go to sleep in fear that they will miss out on something.

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However, when a child complains all the time and fatigue starts to get in the way of things they usually enjoy, it could be a sign of anxiety. When life feels difficult for children, they may feel it and express it as fatigue for whatever reason. They may be feeling anxious at school and come home exhausted. Pay attention not just to fatigue but low energy as well in your growing child. It might be more than a bad night’s sleep or a weekend of playing the video game too late.

No longer enjoying their favorite hobbies can be a cause for concern. Shutterstock

Your child may withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed.

Does your child love to draw, read, or play dress-up all of the time? Maybe they enjoy certain toys like dolls or cars and even have a favorite stuffed animal. You have probably watched the same cartoon movie over and over again — sometimes multiple times on the same day. Yes, most children’s hobbies evolve as they mature. However, one sign of anxiety might be when the child suddenly loses interest in activities they previously enjoyed.

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Often there is a reason that they are avoiding those certain activities. If they have experienced a situation that has caused them anxiety, they may make every effort to avoid places, people, or activities that remind them of the event. Their sudden loss of interest in what used to be their favorite activities can sign that something is going on. You should pay close attention to your child to see how they are feeling. Don’t be scared to mention something to them or a doctor.

While some anxious children have a fear of being alone, others choose to be. Shutterstock

An anxious child may isolate him or herself.

Does your child like to play alone often? While sometimes that might seem enjoyable because you can get some chores done, that might not always be the best option for your little one. You might take this trait as being independent. Moreover, that might double if you have just one child with no siblings. However, an anxious child may isolate for other reasons. As we mentioned earlier, some anxious children may have a fear of being alone. On the other hand, some anxious children may purposely choose to isolate themselves from others.

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This action may look like frequent absences from school, refusal to join in a group activity, or avoiding social activities such as sports. There can be a fear of new hobbies that lead to difficulty in joining or getting started. For them, it is easier to isolate themselves rather than worry about what could go wrong. The fear of being wrong, embarrassed, or having to interact may lead them to isolate themselves. If you notice these traits, which are more than just being shy or timid at first, then you should reach out to your child.

Does your child always say that their stomach hurts? Shutterstock

Children will feel stomach pain.

Stomach aches are one of the telltale signs that something may be wrong. It could be something physical, but your child’s complaints could also be something mental. When a kid feels stressed, the adrenal glands make and release cortisol into the bloodstream, which causes a flight-or-fight response. The stomach tightening can then trigger other symptoms of discomfort in the abdomen.

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It may be described as merely a tummy ache in smaller children, but it could be more. Anxiety problems can also result in stomach cramps, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and other painful symptoms. It is crucial to notice when an upset stomach is more than just what appears on the surface. Those feelings in your children’s stomachs could be their stress response. Contact their pediatrician to find out what the direct cause could be.

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Your child could be suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Another problem that may first arise from a stomach ache is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS is a disorder accompanied by a host of issues, including abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and gas. There is no known cause, but some experts suggest that those with the condition have a more sensitive and reactive colon that responds to certain foods with stress. It is also referred to as a spastic colon.

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Experts state that those with IBS frequently suffer from anxiety and depression. The colon is partially controlled by the nervous system, which is responsive to stress and other things that could cause negative feelings. Anxiety is the body’s response to stress, and children with IBS may be having very physical reactions because they are concerned about the things going on around them.

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Your child’s muscles can tighten.

Because the natural reaction in survival mode is to fight or flight, children dealing with anxiety may feel their muscles tighten when they are under an anxiety attack. Different areas can be affected. Some may be felt in their neck, chest, jaw, or stomach. There are no specific target areas. It depends on where the brain sends the distressing signals.

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Your child may not know what is happening whenever they are feeling the muscles tighten up. You can console them and try to get them calm until the episode subsides. Please note how frequently they complain about the tightened muscles and consult with your child’s doctor for a follow-up visit. There is much more to learn about what to watch for. You can find out more about anxiety signs in children by reading on.

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Your child will complain of itchy skin.

Some anxiety orders cause children to have itchy skin. Several itchy skin conditions can also lead to anxiety, creating a situation where one scenario exacerbates the other. It may be treatable, but it is still something that should be checked out to determine how they may be connected and what could be an appropriate treatment. Your child’s scratching or picking at the skin could be a sign of anxiety.

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We also previously discussed the repetitive bodily actions that some children may exhibit. The picking of skin could have started as a way to seek release from the uncomfortable sensations. Keep reading to learn more about signs of anxiety in children. If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your kid, don’t worry. You can reach out to your doctor to learn more about how you can cope with stress. Furthermore, how you can teach your children to deal with anxiety.

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The heart rate will become elevated.

When the heart pumps extra fast, the body is triggered to work harder to get the blood flow to the other areas. A fast heart rate is expected in children as it responds to increased exercise levels or other activities. However, anxiety can be a whole different story. The condition could manifest its fight or flight tendencies to the heart’s productivity. That could spell out big problems if it becomes chronic.

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If your child is complaining about chest pains or trouble breathing along with an overworking heart rate, you may need to ensure that they see immediate medical attention. Their heart may be beating too fast. One good rule to follow is that if the child’s heart is beating too fast to count the number of beats it is producing, you should go to the hospital as soon as possible. There are several other signs to know. Keep reading to find out more.

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The ears may be pulsing.

Just like stomach pains, earache is another common condition that many children have. However, there is a difference between pain and hearing something that may not be there. Tinnitus is a condition where your child would listen to pulsing or a whooshing sound. Stress causes the secretion of hormones by the body and blood circulation, which leads to less oxygen intake in the inner ear.

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Stress does not cause the condition to appear; however, it can, over time, generate more health problems for your child. Physical changes from anxiety-induced stress could even trigger hearing loss and other inner ear problems. Hearing is such a meaningful sense. Contact your child’s primary care pediatrician if you believe your child is experiencing this symptom. There are techniques you can learn and apply when feeling stressed.

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Your child may have shortness of breath.

Getting winded is a normal occurrence when it is after an intense exercise or playtime. However, anything short of that can be immediately alarming. Another alarming symptom of an anxiety attack is shortness of breath. It often coincides with other symptoms such as elevated heart rate, and immediate medical attention may be needed to get the sign under control.

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Trouble breathing is something that you could notice right away, and it might be the result of another medical problem, such as asthma. Anxiety is indeed something that most adults and children can feel from time to time. It may be part of normal learning, growth, and development. It becomes a concern when it is consistently disrupting your child’s health and social life. We all want what is best for our kids.

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Your child may be feeling an electric shock sensation.

Electric shock feelings are often called phantom vibrations, where the brain shivers or zaps. The feelings are like sensing a phone vibrate only to discover that nothing happened or a buzzing sensation. It could also be terrifying at the moment, and your child may not know what to do when it happens. These phantom vibrations could be caused by attachment anxiety.

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If you believe that your child’s constant concerns and fears are out of the ordinary and the disruption is negatively impacting how he or she is growing, you should share those statements with your child’s doctor. Monitoring the symptoms is essential. You could need the child psychologist or counselor’s help to handle your child’s difficult physical and emotional feelings.

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Your child may constantly feel dizzy.

Feeling dizzy in the short term can be a bit of fun, especially if it is the result of spinning around too many times. It makes your child fall. However, in an uncontrolled setting, it can be scary. Children with anxiety may complain about feeling dizzy for seemingly no reason. The physical symptom could be related to an anxiety disorder as the body responds to other responses from within.

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Experts believe that constant dizziness is due to the brain areas that are responsible for the dizziness feeling interacting with the child’s other anxiety-induced symptoms. Feeling dizzy is often described as a light-headed or wooziness sensation. Does your child ever stand up and just stay there for a second? Maybe they stare off If this and other symptoms are happening consistently, you should make an appointment with a doctor.

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Your child is not eating correctly.

We have talked about other areas that children and adults try to control their unwanted feelings of anxiety. Food intake is another one. However, there may be a related physical reason why your child does not want to eat. Lack of an appetite and a decrease in food a child eats could be a sign that he or she is feeling anxious. Do you notice this habit in your children? Try to pay closer attention if you think this is happening.

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There is loss in appetite might be because of the hormonal changes that are occurring within the body. The other physical symptoms of anxiety could be another reason why your child is pushing back the plate of food and wanting to be left alone until the feelings subside. Because nutrition is so vital for development, contact the doctor for assistance if you believe this is happening to your children.

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Your child may be short-tempered.

Because anxiety may be the culprit behind a host of other problems, you may notice that your once sweet-tempered child may have become a bit of a hothead. Those with anxiety often have trouble falling asleep or staying in slumber. Sleep-deprived children may become more sensitive to small setbacks and problems. In turn, they are irritable and quick to anger.

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Experts believe that anxiety and short tempers go hand in hand with feelings of loss of control. Children with anxiety are being presented with a stressor that they do not know how to handle. These frustrated feelings could then present themselves as anger. Emotions are a tough thing to tackle. Call your children’s pediatrician if you are feeling concerned that your constant crabby child may have anxiety.