Anxiety Signs: 15 Commonly Missed Phrases Kids with Anxiety Say

A therapist shares 15 anxiety signs and phrases that could suggest your little one is feeling anxious. Have your children said any of these? 

Anxiety in children is a complicated subject. As an anxious mum with an anxious daughter, I’ve looked into a fair few ways to help both of us tackle our anxiety.

One of the hardest things about coping with anxiety is that sometimes you don’t know your little one is feeling anxious. Anxiety has so many shapes and forms and many children are not able to understand that what they’re feeling could be anxiety. Instead, they come up with other ways to communicate how they feel.

Therapist and mum of three Melissa Griffing shared 15 common phrases and anxiety signs that could indicate your little one is experiencing anxiety. She shared her words of wisdom on TikTok and parents around the world are praising her for shedding light on a very difficult subject.

“Did you know kids talk about anxiety in a whole heck of a bunch of different ways that parents often don’t pick up on? Here are 15 different ways that kids say, ‘I’m feeling worried,’” Melissa says.

15 Anxiety Signs: Phrases that Could Suggest your Child is Anxious

1. “My tummy hurts”: Tummy pain is probably the most common indication that your little one is feeling nervous or anxious. After all, anxiety often feels like your stomach is in knots.

2. “My legs hurt”: However, many kids will also point to other areas of their body where they feel pain including their legs, arms, etc.

3. “My arms hurt”

4. I’m not hungry”: Anxiety can make it tricky to feel hungry or eat, even if you are hungry. Often when I am facing anxiety, even though I’m starving, I just cannot stomach food. It’s a terrible feeling.

5. “I need to pee again”. 

6. “I can’t sleep”.

7. “I don’t wanna go to school”: School refusal is a common sign of anxiety but it could also be a sign that something else is happening in the classroom or on the playground.

8. “I hate you”: Quite possibly the hardest three words to hear come out of your children’s mouths and also the most confusing. Your child does not hate you. They are simply overcome by feelings and often this feeling is anxiety.

9. “Nobody likes me”: Another terrible phrase that can break any parent’s heart. It’s obviously not true but, to an anxious child, it can feel this way.

10. “I just wanna stay with you.”

11.  “What-if…”: Asking ‘what-if’ questions could mean your little one is curious about the world but it would also mean they are worried about something happening.

12. “I don’t know”: It might seem like your child is deliberately being difficult when they say “I don’t know” but this isn’t the case at all.

13. “Nobody wants to talk to me at school”. 

14. “I don’t like it”. 

15. “I think I’m getting sick”. 

@momtherapist Kids tall about anxiety in ways adulta often dont pick up on. Heres your cheat sheet for deciphering kid speak on anxiety! #therapy #childtherapists #thoughtsfromatherapist #wellnestcounseling #dallastherapist #parenting #4upage ♬ original sound – Melissa

Melissa’s TikTok video has amassed a huge number of views and hundreds of comments from grateful parents thanking her for shedding light on this.

Anxiety in Children: Ways to Help

We have some great tips on helping children overcome anxiety with various strategies, communication tricks and even some great products. These include:

  1. The 333 rule
  2. The 54321 rule
  3. Pocket Hearts
  4. Worry Bears
  5. Worry Boxes or jars
  6. Counting
  7. Matching hearts
  8. A change of temperature
  9. Weighted blankets
  10. Art therapy
  11. Professional help

See these tips in detail: Effective ways to help kids with anxiety



Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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