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Stomach aches and nail biting could be signs your child has anxiety

Mental health issues can start at a very young age.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- May is Mental Health Awareness month and most of the time we are concentrating on the mental health of the adults around and teenagers in our lives. But mental health issues can start at a very young age and our young children also so signs of anxiety.

It's easy to write off your child's stomach ache or headaches as no big deal but they could be a sign they are anxious about something in their life.

A new Harris Poll found that 37% of parents are concerned about their child's mental health and think they may need some support.

Here are just a few of the things to look out for:

  • Picking at their lips or biting the inside of their cheek
  • Not being able to sleep at a friend’s house
  • Hiding
  • Being quiet
  • Nail biting
  • Fidgeting
  • Canceling plans
  • Constantly watching the clock
  • Not looking you in the eye when they talk

Anxiety is really a form of stress and these are the different ways your child is trying to let you know something in their life is not ok. Parents should start looking for these signs early, as young as two or three. If they persist your child may need counseling to help their anxiety. Most children with an anxiety disorder are diagnosed by the age of 10.

If anxiety goes untreated and lasts into adulthood it could lead to clinical depression, drug or alcohol abuse and suicide.

We all have anxiety from time to time. But chronic anxiety, when you constantly feel out of control or worried and there is not relief from it, is a lifelong condition.

There are many resources in West Michigan, a good place to start is the Mental Health Foundation.

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