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At the foremost stage of their life, children have a long journey of learning to embark on. One of the first things they learn is language, which is a vital part of life. But language is also the most difficult things for a child to adapt with and sometimes, they fall short of words, failing to express their thoughts correctly. So it’s only natural that some of the things they say go unnoticed. Yet, it’s really important to listen closely when a child talks. Hidden in their immature ways of communication could be a plea for help. We may not realize it, but sometimes a child is aching for assistance and just doesn’t know how to covey it.

It is said that fear is a result of a lack of knowledge. You fear certain situations because you don’t know how they’re going to play out. Every child comes into the world not knowing anything about it. Thus, it’s only natural for a child to experience anxiety more easily than any adolescent or adult.

Research reveals that there are some standard phrases that parents report their child saying. The situations where the child tends to say them, suggest that these are code words for anxiety. Knowing the meaning behind each of these phrases can help a parent tackle possible clinical anxiety from developing in their child. So if your child is saying any of the following phrases, it could mean more than them just having a tantrum.

“What’s wrong with me?”

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This is an indication of insecurity. Your child is experiencing self-doubt, which could be a result of external pressure from elsewhere.

“I didn’t realize I had anxiety and my parents didn’t either. They just thought I was being dramatic when I would burst into tears crying, ‘What is wrong with me?’ I was a chatterbox, so my silence was a sign my anxiety was in full swing.” — Kylie L.

If your child is constantly questioning themselves, it means they need the assurance that they are good enough.

“I’m tired.”

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Anxiety can make anyone, child or adult, tired of their thoughts. An anxious person becomes more aware of everything that’s going on around them. So it may seem that a child is unnecessarily tired all the time, but in fact, their fatigue is a result of their anxiety.

“I have a headache.”

Most of the time, a child uses illness as an excuse to avoid school or other activities that they feel anxious about. This is also common in teens. Especially when there’s a case of serious bullying or peer pressure going on at school. They prefer using a health problem as an excuse for having to explain external issues. This is because they know they won’t be forced to go if they feel ill as opposed to feeling scared.

“I’m sorry.”

Yes, apologizing for your mistakes is the right thing to do. We always find ways to instill manners of gratitude and guilt in children, early on. But it’s not natural for a child to apologize constantly. Children don’t like apologizing. So if a child says ‘I’m sorry,’ all of the time, especially if they don’t really need too, then it indicates anxiety. They might be afraid of possible repercussions of things they say/do.

“Can’t we stay home?”

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Social anxiety can bud in the early period of childhood. Usually, getting out of the house makes a child very excited. When a child prefers to stay at home over going out, it might indicate that they are having a hard time adjusting to change and social atmospheres.

“You Do It.”

Not only children, but even some adolescents report that they have a hard time placing orders, making appointments or doing any kind of job that involves interaction. This is also a form of social anxiety. To think, just asking the cashier for an extra spoon is really not a difficult task, but an anxious child will just pass it onto someone else.

“Is it time to leave yet?”

When your child asks you how much longer they need to stay, it does not necessarily mean that they’re bored or tired. They might feel uncomfortable meeting strangers or just because of social interaction.

“I always said this because of crowds of even more than two people would trigger my anxiety. I couldn’t wait till said events or functions were done.” — Shannon C.

“Don’t leave me.”

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Insecurities can trigger a fear of abandonment in children. Most children feel terrified of being left with someone else, other than their parents. When you leave the house, try to comfort them by telling them what time you will be back and then try your best to make it back on said time. This instills better trust and hope in the child.

Don’t make me.”

Upon being given a task, if your child automatically asks you to not make them do something, it shows that either you, the parent or somebody else is forcing them to do things they fear doing.

“I don’t feel well.”

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Or as some children complain, “My stomach hurts.” Ultimately, both mean that they are nervous about something. Find ways to calm your child’s nerves, for instance by telling them to breathe on their thumbs.

“I don’t want to!”

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See we’re not talking about chores here. This is about when a child is encouraged to do something new, like skiing or checking out a ceramics class. If they refuse to even give it a try, it should be taken into concern. Don’t just take it as them being difficult, they’re just really afraid of not knowing what will happen.