ANXIETY & BEHAVIOR: How to know if your child has Stress or Anxiety Parent's Corner

Is it Stress or Anxiety?

Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.

Your child seems to have many fears, is anxious and overwhelmed at home, in large crowds, in school, around other children, or in unfamiliar surroundings. Is it anxiety or is it every day stress? Anxiety and stress come in many different shapes and sizes. However, anxiety can be caused by a mental illness or an anxiety disorder.  How do we know the difference and how can we recognize signs and symptoms? While the lines between stress and anxiety are often blurred and many times share the same physical symptoms, there are distinct differences all parents should be aware of.

How to tell if your child has Stress or Anxiety | #anxiety #stress

How to recognize the signs

Here are some helpful tips to determine whether your child is experiencing normal stress or coping with real anxiety issues.



What is it?
  • Physical or mental reaction to stressful situations that interferes with daily functionality (sense of helplessness)
  • Fear of what “might” happen instead of what is happening
  • Chemical body reaction that causes fear, excitement, anger, anxiousness, etc.
  • Often mistaken for behavioral issues
  • How a child’s body and mind responds to any kind of demand.
  • Any type of emotional or physical situation triggered by change.
  • Chemical body reaction to day-to-day life that is associated with frustration and nervousness.
  • Reaction to what is happening in the moment.
What causes it?
  • Threatening situations such as bullying, being in the spotlight, unfamiliar social situations
  • Pressure of timed tests, falling behind classmates, poor grades, learning disabilities
  • Obsessing over disappointing parents or teachers
  • Pressures of homework, timed tests or group projects
  • Social situations with peers or with the teacher
  • Frustration with grades or not grasping certain concepts
  • Changes in routine or home-life situation
Signs you may notice
  • Your child is less aware of a situation that points to the cause of their anxiety.
  • Unfounded fears or dread of everyday situations
  • Panic attacks, chills, headaches, hot flashes, chest pains
  • Phobias of events, activities or social situations that lead to panic
  • Oftentimes has a snowball effect; converts fear into feelings
  • More than six months of excessive, unrealistic worry
  • Your child can pinpoint a specific situation that is causing the stressful state.
  • Headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger
  • Digestive problems or irritability
  • Could cause viral infections, such as the flu or a common cold
How to help
  • If severe, consult a mental health professional or therapist
  • Create a plan to teach your child coping skills, relaxation techniques or breathing exercises
  • Talk openly with them about their symptoms
  • Baby steps; take things slowly and one day at a time
  • Teach kids how to rate their fears, but don’t cater to the fear.
  • Teach them positive phrases “I can do this” and “I will be ok”
  • Physical activity (sports, parks, yoga, walking)
  • Calming music
  • Talk through the issues with your children (be a good listener)
  • Healthy diet (avoid sugary and salty foods that can make stress worse)
  • Contact a tutor, the teacher or a friend for recommendations
  • If severe, find intervention with a medical or health professional

How to tell if your child has Stress or Anxiety | #anxiety #stress

Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs


  1. This is so good to know. Thank you for sharing!!

  2. This is a great article! I happen to be a public school teacher and I think every parent needs a copy of this! Gonna share for you.

  3. So sad to think of kids dealing with stress and anxiety, I wish my mom had seen this when I was younger, it would have helped!

  4. I always thought of stress and anxiety as pretty similar emotions, even into my adulthood. It’s eye opening to see that there are such chemical and emotional differences and your chart is a help and easy way to understand them. Thank you!


  5. These are all great tips. Thanks for sharing. Its good to know the difference for your kids.

  6. I suffer from severe anxiety and it can be difficult to cope with some social situations, have panic attacks and have very poor self-esteem. I am glad that you pointed out the difference between stress and anxiety because it really frustrates me when they tell me I am just stressed. Being stressed and being anxious is two very different things.

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