Adoption and Family,  adoption and tweens,  Health

Perplexing Childhood Anxiety Symptoms – Part 2 of a Series

For years we struggled trying to figure out why my daughter worried so much. And why she had so many stomach aches and headaches too. Then, when it became such a big factor that it interfered with her getting to school, we had to take action.

Childhood anxiety is a challenge but it can be manageable with support and sometimes medications too. Here’s part 2 in my childhood anxiety series – on Childhood Anxiety Symptoms.



A Bit About Our Daughter

We have a daughter with Generalized anxiety disorder. I started talking about her anxiety disorder several years ago when I wrote a piece for Today’s Parent. You can read that here in Today’s Parent anxiety piece. 

When Payton was about 7 or 8 she was first officially diagnosed, but oddball things had been happening since she was 6. In fact the onset of full time school can bring on anxiety for many children. Now Payton is 13. She copes well sometimes and is learning new strategies over time. What works for us well is that my daughter is extremely verbal, in two languages, so she’s able to tell us what’s happening with words often. The thing I have always loved about that is that it makes my job a bit easier. If she lets me know something is wrong and provides me with some of the symptoms or feelings, then I can help or plug in the help she needs.

Earlier this month I posted part 1: Five Things I Know About Childhood Anxiety

This is part 2 of my childhood anxiety series.


Becoming a Childhood Anxiety Detective:

Sometimes when you are parenting and an illness comes up you have to be a bit of a detective to figure out what is happening. I remember feeling that way from the start with my babies. They would drop tiny clues about their ailments and illnesses even before they could talk.

Most parents get good at reading the clues. A fever. lethargy and sore throat plus tugging on the ear often equalled ear infection. A fever and no lethargy, for my one daughter was almost always just a simple bug that would easily go away. Runny nose equalled a cold and so on. Nausea almost always is an easy one because kids tend to vomit whenever and wherever that hits.

Anxiety is a bit harder to decode. At least it was for me. Maybe, if some of you read this, and learn about our experience this might help. At least I hope it does.

How did I know my daughter had anxiety? The answer is I didn’t for a really long time. I had no idea what to label what she was feeling because the symptoms were physical. I ended up taking her to the doctor repeatedly for stomach aches and constipation and headaches and over and over she’d miss school due to some physical complaint.

We were in the emergency room with her stomach aches a few times when she was six and seven. She’d get extremely constipated. Childhood anxiety symptoms are perplexing because they don’t often make sense. Now I know that stomach upsets and constipation can be a symptom of anxiety in children.

Back then doctors ran X-rays and we came up always sort of empty handed. There didn’t seem to be a reason for the stomach pain. They questioned her about bullying and whether that could be the issue. For several months, maybe even years, we assumed stomach aches and then head aches were bullying related. At some point most kids run into and experience bullies. Our daughter had experienced bullies too. But even when she was put on a laxative to fix some of the stomach pain, and even as we dealt with the bullies, she was still not getting better.

So what were we missing and what were we seeing? It wasn’t until several years in with her anxiety that we realized after reading and therapy and assessments mounted up, that anxiety comes with pronounced physical symptoms. Essentially worry can make you sick.

Ten Childhood Anxiety Symptoms:

1. racing heart

2. stomach ache

3. head ache

4. breathing faster

5. sweating

6. nausea

7. sleep issues (can look like inability to sleep and can also look like too much sleep. My daughter is super exhausted at end of school and she falls asleep extremely early every night.)

8. joint pain

9. difficulty concentrating.

10. shaking, dizziness.

[tweetthis]DYK that anxiety is one of the most common children’s mental health disorders?[/tweetthis]

childhood anxiety
childhood anxiety

Does your Child Have These Symptoms Way Too Often?

Does your child have childhood anxiety symptoms? I certainly am no doctor or therapist. But if they have many of these, or any of these, and they interfere with daily living then tell your family doctor. Children’s mental health issues are challenging but teaching them coping strategies equals more tools to deal with anxiety as adults.

Here’s a book that we found helped.

This post contains an affiliate link as a service to my readers.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    My oldest is a worrier. I Have wondered about him having anxiety issues for a while now and it’s definitely possible based on what you have here.

  • Sarah Bailey

    Looking back on my childhood I had many issues, I wasn’t diagnosed with anything till my teens as I always kept it quiet I’m glad more people are talking about things like this now and sharing it can and does happen. x

  • Judy Cowan

    Thanks for the post, definitely something that is often misdiagnosed. Good to know what signs to look for.

  • Jessica Harlow

    This is a good list of symptoms to be aware of…it can be so hard to understand what your child is going through if they cannot articulate. My 6 month old daughter was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and has had at least a dozen head surgies at this point. Now she can communicate with me, but before it was really about watching for signs and symptoms!

  • Carmen Perez (listen2mama)

    I think that many kids have anxiety issues and many folks don’t realize it, bc many of them start with the never ending stomach ache and parents just think they want to get out of going to school. Kids worry a lot and school seems to have many pressures nowadays and bullying, which has always existed. Great post on a very important topic.

    • Catherine S

      I agree, this is a great way to bring awareness. I never thought about kids suffering from anxiety.

  • Catherine S

    This is a great informative post. I think a lot of people don’t think about kids suffering from anxiety.

  • Donna Ward

    First let me congratulate you on your piece for Today’s Parent! And, I am so sorry to hear about the bullying situation! Yet – so glad you have written about this – my son’s anxiety showed up as a toddler – I was so saddened that he was reacting to his dad’s and my divorce – it is so difficult for our little ones

  • lisa

    Thank you for posting this list. My oldest worries about everything but thankfully not to the point of physical illness.

  • Echo

    It is good to know these symptoms. I have a 9 yr old with anxiety and it can be difficult. However, having the right coping skills can help a lot.

  • Pam

    It is important to recognize symptoms and to know that each child can have different symptoms. It certainly helps to have tools in place and to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to deal with children that have anxiety issues. I

  • Theresa

    My oldest might have anxiety issues. She stresses out over everything! Thanks for posting the signs. I will be sure to look for the symptoms in her.

  • Breanna

    As a teacher, I see children suffering from anxiety almost every single day. It’s so important that signs and symptoms are recognized and not shoved aside. Great post!

  • Jeanine

    My daughter has anxiety issues from bullying at school. She’s a trooper and we are getting through it! I totally sympathize and I’m sure this post will help many, especially when some aren’t too sure what to look for!

  • Kori

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m having to keep an eye on my kiddos because I have anxiety issues. Though they’re mostly under control now, it’s still a concern.

  • Hollie

    The one thing with childhood anxiety, it can mimic so many other mental health issues. At first I thought my daughter was anxious it wasn’t till later we got the full spectrum diagnosis.

  • Rosey

    I’m sorry to hear you had to go for so long without realizing what was going on (including hospital visits, oy!). It’s such a relief to get a proper diagnosis though, isn’t it! Then you know how to move forward.

  • Chrystal @ YUM eating

    I can completely understand how you and your daughter fee. I’ve suffered from anxiety disorders since I was a kid due to sexual abuse. Now, almost 40, I still have it a long with other mental illnesses. The good side to anxiety disorders is that with therapy, medications, clean diet and behavior disorders,symptoms can be managed and greatly reduced.

  • Gabriel Bregg

    It’s so hard to pinpoint what is causing a child issues because they often don’t know how to connect the cause to the effect. Knowing what to look for as an adult is critical.

  • Farrah

    This is a topic that really touches my heart. My little boy turns 8 in June. He has some sensory issues and anxiety really brings them out. I think this is great information for parents to have, because people don’t always realize that children can have anxiety too.

  • Farrah

    This is a topic that really touches my heart. My little boy turns 8 in June. He has some sensory issues and anxiety really brings them out. I think this is great information for parents to have, because people don’t always realize that children can have anxiety too.

    • Paula

      Farrah: Thanks so much for your comment. Yes kids struggle often with this. I am noticing my youngest also has some anxiety that comes with the sensory issues. That’s challenging and her separation anxiety has always been a big deal.

  • Lynndee

    I didn’t know it’s one of the most common mental health disorders among children. Sad to know that. I’m glad though that my son don’t have any of those symptoms.

  • Bradley Finnearty

    A child having to deal with anxiety disorder has to be hard. Children have enough anxiety created by school, peer pressure and other things. It is good to hear that your daughter is coping.

    • Paula

      Thanks Bradley! I agree. It is very true that peer pressure and school don’t help. They actually exacerbate the problem sometimes.

  • Yona Williams

    I had no idea that childhood anxiety has physical consequences and symptoms like the ones you’ve mentioned. I’m glad that you were able to decipher your daughter’s anxiety, and find approaches in education that worked for her.

  • Cherri Megasko

    I’m glad to see someone writing about this. It’s so important to recognize this early. Treatment can make a huge difference in the life of a child who suffers from anxiety.the life o