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What Are the Signs of Anxiety?

How to recognize anxiety in kids

Clinical Expert: Grace Berman, LCSW

en Español

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health challenges among children and teenagers. But it can be hard to tell when kids are feeling anxious.

Here are some of the most common signs that a child might be experiencing anxiety:

  • Worrying a lot: Kids with anxiety feel worry or fear that is out of proportion to what they’re actually experiencing. These worries don’t go away over time and get in the way of kids’ normal lives. Some kids get anxious only in response to specific things, while others worry a lot in general.
  • Physical symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, sweating and racing heart can all be signs of anxiety.
  • Avoiding certain situations: Depending on what makes them anxious, kids might avoid things that other kids enjoy or are comfortable doing. For example, kids with social anxiety might avoid playing with other kids or ask to stay home from school.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Anxious thoughts can distract kids from schoolwork and other tasks.
  • Trouble sleeping: Worrying can interfere with kids’ sleep.
  • Disruptive behavior: Kids with anxiety sometimes lash out or act aggressive when they are overwhelmed by uncomfortable feelings.
  • Clinging to parents or caregivers: Children with anxiety may have trouble separating from their parents, and need lots of reassurance.
  • Being hard on themselves: Some anxious kids worry a lot about failing or looking bad in front of other people. They might have low self-esteem or say mean things about themselves.
This article was last reviewed or updated on May 3, 2024.