Your Child and Stress

Children feel stress as much as adults do. They may not have to go to work, pay bills, or support a family, but they experience stress and its effects as they deal with what’s happening in their world. Below are some signs of stress, how it impacts young people, and how parents, guardians, and other adults can support children dealing with stressful situations.

What is stress?
Stress is the body’s physical, mental or emotional reaction to a change or threat.  Even a perceived threat, because of negative thoughts or feelings, can trigger a stress response.  This response releases adrenaline and cortisol and prepares your body to fight the threat or run away from it.  You might experience increased heart rate and respiration, elevated blood pressure, sweating, and blood rushing to your arms and legs. This response is beneficial when a big dog is chasing you, but what about ordinary, everyday stress, like an upcoming test? Even though the threat is not the same, the body’s reaction is.

Signs of stress:
When stressed, your child may also experience the physical and mental effects that come with it. They may exhibit the following:

  • Anger or irritability
  • Constant negative thoughts
  • Over or under eating
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Excessive worrying
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Withdrawal from friends or family
  • Headaches or stomachaches
  • Changes in behavior
  • Frequent crying spells
  • Procrastination or neglecting responsibilities

Types of stress your child may face:

  • Family issues such as separation or divorce
  • Friends and peer pressure
  • Bullying
  • School and maintaining grades
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Jobs
  • Pressures of getting into college
  • Social media and the constant comparison to others
  • High expectations from themselves, their families, and teachers