When your child is stressed or anxious, their feelings may manifest in ways that are different than those of adults. Some of these signs will be similar to those your child experiences on a typical day, so they can be difficult to detect. Here are a few clues that might tell you your child is anxious or stressed.
Your baby may show signs of stress and anxiety if they cry more than usual or have trouble sleeping. Your child may break down when you leave them with a caregiver, babysitter, or in a daycare center. Your infant may also be fussy, irritable, and have trouble feeding.
Physical symptoms, such as sweating or trembling, can be signs of anxiety or stress. Your toddler may act apprehensive, be withdrawn, or have frequent tantrums. They may also have difficulty sleeping or show a powerful interest in particular topics. They may even refuse to eat and exhibit other physical symptoms of stress. They may show signs of acting unusually clingy or out of character.
Between the ages of three and five, children are more able to verbalize their feelings. They can tell you that they are afraid of monsters or of being alone at night. They may also become clingy or even aggressive. Your child will probably be able to tell you what they’re stressed about, but they might not be able to explain why they are experiencing these feelings.
Many children become very anxious when asked to do something new or unfamiliar. Some children may even be unwilling to leave the house and have problems with homework. They may start pulling away from school or neighborhood friends and refuse to try new things. They may also exhibit symptoms of depression, like isolation, withdrawal, or impulsivity.
What Should Parents Do When Their Child Is Experiencing Stress or Anxiety?
Many times, simply talking to your child and helping them work through the cause of their stress or anxiety can help. However, if the symptoms are consistent or worsening, you may want to plan for an appointment with their local doctor. The doctor can help determine if your child is dealing with chronic stress or anxiety, discuss potential causes, and provide recommendations or treatment plans.