Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

When You Should Worry: 11 Red Flags for Anxiety in Your Child

Tamar E. Chansky lists some red flags for anxiety in a child in her insightful book, “Freeing Your Child: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Worries, and Phobias”:
1. Demonstrates excessive distress out of proportion to the situation: crying, physical symptoms, sadness, anger, frustration, hopelessness, embarrassment
2. Easily distressed, agitated, or angry when in a stressful situation
3. Repetitive reassurance questions, “what if” concerns, inconsolable, won’t respond to logical arguments
4. Headaches, stomachaches, regularly too sick to go to school
5. Anticipatory anxiety, worrying hours, days, weeks ahead
6. Disruptions of sleep with difficulty falling asleep, frequent nightmares
7. Perfectionism, very high standards by which nothing is good enough
8. Overly responsible, excessive concern that others are upset with him or her, unnecessary apologizing
9. Demonstrates excessive avoidance: refuses to participate in expected activities, refuses to attend school
10. Disruption of child or family functioning, difficulty with going to school, to a friends’ houses, religious activities, family gatherings, on errands, on vacations
11. Excessive time spent consoling child about distress with ordinary situations, excessive time coaxing child to perform normal activities–homework, hygiene, meals
To read more Beyond Blue, go to, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

  • MAR

    How I wish people had been aware of these issues 30 some years ago when some of us were children. I spent probably 5-6 years, if not more, asking my parents multiple times every day “do you love me? do you really love me?” because I really, truly, didn’t believe that they did (or could, because I never thought I was good enough to be loved). And I thought every day that one more A-, one more failure to laugh when grandpa made fun of me (those were the scale of my errors and failures) and I’d be starving under a bridge. Why didn’t they try to help me or handle this? I was just told to knock it off and that I was weird (which made me distrust their love even more).
    So, now at 38, I’m a successful professional, married solidly to a good person, but I just don’t have any feelings about my parents – I don’t know them, I don’t know why they were never there when I needed them – and I don’t think much of the concept of “family.” You can keep your relatives, I’ll take pets and books, thank you.

  • Bob

    Mar, I can relate somewhat. My parents were obsessed with social climbing, and they did not spend much time with me when I needed it.
    What I have done, and what you should do, is forgive them for their shortcomings. Rejoice that you have gotten where you are. Your parents were flawed, but that is not on you.
    As a parent, I am very tuned in to my child’s anxieties because of what I went through. It is not easy with a profoundly disabled mom and me, fighting depression, but he gives us the will to move forward.

  • Chinamom

    Oh, Therese, this is so on-target right now. You have no idea…. (Well, actually, I know you do, seeing what you wrote about David in the next post.) I am recognizing so many of my own issues in my (non-biological) child right now.

  • Cindy

    Therese, in my book, it seems you never fail! That would be because it seems that every time is something significant is happening in my life, your beyond blue post is about that subject. It never ceases to amaze me. Especially when I feel like I’m at the end of my rope.
    So much of the last 6 months has been spent dealing with my oldest son being diagnosed with clinical depression. I won’t say much more because his age is in double digits & does deserve his privacy, just as you wrote in another post.
    I’ve never been very patient, but this current situation is pushing my Effexor XR & Xanax XR to their limits. :)
    Anyway, once again, I wanted to thank you for sharing things like this. You provide much needed relevant information.

  • Lynne

    Geeze…Wish Ida known then what I know now…or they did. I SO got off on the wrong foot as a kid. Was accused of being overly dramatic if I expressed my concerns. Funny thing is, my Mom is the “Drama Queen” now. Go figure. We never do get it 100% do we? BTW Mom’s coming to visit for a few weeks. Wanna talk about ANXIETY?!!!

  • Lynne

    PS. My Mom is like Martha Stewart on CRACK!!! It makes me consider substance abuse.

  • Anonymous

    In my experience, when a child is frequently “too sick to attend school”, it is often an indication that something is really wrong in that environment, be it a bullying classmate, a judgmental teacher or difficulty in mastering whatever skills are being taught. The FIRST approach to that one, I believe, is a thorough investigation of your child’s school environment. Unfortunately, there are some toxic ones out there.

  • Melzoom

    Hmmm…. number 3-8 describe me as a teen. EXACTLY.

  • Ella

    This describes my now 42 year-old brother his entire life. He is still almost crippled in terms of how narrowly he has drawn the boundaries of his life in order to avoid his anxiety. I wish we could have found ways back then to help him so that it would have not gotten worse.

  • frgough

    Actually, you only need to watch for one flag: A noticeable, sudden, significant change in your child’s personality.
    Of course, this assumes you know your child well enough to spot such a change.

  • Debra Babarsky

    PLease, send me the wonderful brief article you wrote on “8 Ways to Affair Proof your Marriage” that was posted on this morning, but I was not able to print out for my husband to read. It was very helpful and they moved it off their site and I can’t find it. My e-mail only has one “r” in it.
    Thank You,
    Debra Babarsky

  • Connie

    I couldn’t agree more with the first commenter. Our son had terrible school anxiety when he attended a private school for a year when we moved to a new city. The school (Episcopal…ha!!!) acted as if he was being disobedient when he had panic attacks in the car in the mornings about going to school…he would sob and apologize. He was not being disobedient, was just terrified of his teacher (this was only second grade).
    The only thing that worked was changing schools.

  • Lynne

    i’m still helping her though the pain of losing her father ..
    no matter what i did i can’t make it better for her …so we moved
    to the other side of the country …and to my great joy she is doing so much better …so yes sometimes we just need to ask for help and let God lead the way …….mother of a nine girl

  • Jill

    These describe my entire childhood.

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