How to Spot Anxiety Symptoms in your Children (and Yourself) During High Stress Times

By Anne Peters, LMFT

It’s no secret that feelings of anxiety have increased for many of us over the last several months. There has been so much uncertainty in our world, and if there’s one thing uncertainty feeds, it’s anxiety. This is the same for children. Children are not always aware of what that feeling may be, so we need to know the signs that our children are feeling anxious so we can offer some support. These signs are great as a reference for yourself, too, if you don’t always fully know what emotions are running through you.

Sleep – When you notice an interruption in your child’s sleep, this could be a sign of anxiety. It can be hard for them (and us!) to turn off their brains enough to rest. Offer support at bedtime and reassure your child they are safe and healthy. A few extra cuddles will never hurt.

Moodiness – A change in mood can also be a sign of some worrying. If you notice the moodiness remains past what is typical for your child, sit your child down and ask what’s on their mind. Don’t dive in with addressing the moodiness. Be vulnerable with your child and process how things have been confusing and difficult lately, and open the gates of communication to get anything off their chest.

Reassurance Seeking – Maybe you’ve noticed your child asking more questions like “Am I going to be OK?” or “Are you going to get sick?” Their little minds are trying to make sense of what’s going on around them. Since we do not have complete knowledge that you, I, or anyone will not get sick, we don’t want to falsely assure them. We can, however, acknowledge the many things we do every day to help stay healthy (washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, etc.).

Physical Symptoms – Most commonly, headaches and stomachaches can be somatic symptoms of anxiety. If you’ve noticed an increase in any physical symptoms, validate and reassure your child’s ailments, and take some time to do some coping skills together. Go for a walk, take some deep breaths, tell jokes, or draw!

Difficulty Separating – In the midst of hard feelings, a child is likely to want to spend extra time with the people who comfort them the most – you! If you notice your child is clingier, this may be the anxiety talking. Be there for your child, talk with them, and offer endless hugs.

Finally, if you are worried about the anxiety your child is experiencing and feel you need some more support, please contact us. LSI has a team of therapists ready to support you!

Need Help?