Pediatric Mental Health: Identifying Signs of Stress and Anxiety

Many young couples today have made the decision not to have any children. If you ask them their reasons, they will tell you they don’t want to bring children into a world with turmoil, hate, and uncertainty about their future. After years of living through COVID, now there is war and economic stress which certainly filters down to the kids. Unless you cut your children off from all social media and news, it is going to affect them. Now is the right time for promoting pediatric mental health and learning how to identify signs of stress and anxiety.

It’s (Probably) Not You

Let’s begin by not accepting any guilt for a child who is anxious or stressed. Parents are not the cause. Unfortunately, parents can exacerbate the problem by making light of it or by criticizing their child for being so anxious. Take a good look at how you respond to your child’s anxiety. We will talk more about this later.

Our board-certified pediatricians and staff understand the complex decisions parents face and are dedicated to providing the best care to your child. Schedule a one-on-one consultation at our pediatric clinic in Manassas, VA.

What Anxiety Looks Like in Children and Teens

Children are little sponges. They absorb everything we say, react to, or do. They watch us and note how we cope. As a parent, that’s a tremendous responsibility. Before you can help your own child cope, you need to recognize what stress and anxiety looks like in your child. 

Here are a few examples.

  • In general, children may exhibit signs of irritability and moodiness, talking about being worried, and changing eating and sleeping habits.
  • Toddlers to children age 7 may regress into old habits like wetting the bed. Stomach pains, separation anxiety, and fights over eating and bedtime are common.
  • Early school-age children may respond to stress by worrying about their family. They may be irritable and act out at school or in sports activities.
  • Tweens may exhibit avoidance and dropping grades at school. They won’t want to talk about what’s bothering them.
  • Teens will show apathy and lose interest in their normal activities. Low energy, depression, and isolation from friends is common in teens who have anxiety.

The Dangers of Chronic Stress in Children

Chronic stress in a child can lead to a long list of physical and mental problems. Feeling stressed for a long period of time can cause high blood pressure, weaken the immune system, and contribute to diseases like obesity and heart disease. So, yes, it is crucial to help your child talk through their feelings. Helping your child with anxiety starts with your acknowledgement.

How Parents Can Help Promote Mental Health


Your ability to listen is one of the most important qualities a parent can have. Let your child know you are always there to listen, and you won’t judge.

Create a Routine

This is something tangible your child can rely on. It can help them feel more secure by having daily rituals like dinner time with family, a set bedtime with enough sleep each night, and regular physical activity.

Get Outside

Those with more green space in their environment have less depression.

Fight Negative Thinking

Don’t just disagree with your child if they express negative feelings about themselves. Ask them to recall a time they overcame an obstacle and how they succeeded. Help them frame things positively.

Share Healthy Coping

Share a time when you had difficulty coping with a stressful situation and how you overcame it. It helps young people to know they’re not alone.

Don’t procrastinate if you need assistance. Contact our board-certified pediatricians at (703) 330-3939 for help in managing your child’s stress and anxiety in Manassas, VA.