Stress in Children & Teens
Stress is a response to any situation that requires adaptation or change and is a natural part of daily life. Stress can be considered good or bad depending on the response to the stress. The body’s response to stress will vary for different people. The same stress may cause a large amount of anxiety for some, but only minimal anxiety for others.
Good vs. bad stress
Good stress helps us get things done and is not harmful. It may prompt you to study harder for a test or presentation.
Bad stress occurs when the feelings of anxiety are overwhelming. This kind of stress may cause stomachaches, headaches, difficulty sleeping, difficulties with attention, changes in eating habits, irritability, and aggression. Other symptoms of stress include worries, anger, frustration, fearfulness, and the inability to relax or control emotions.
Common causes of childhood stress:
- School – developing friendships, pressure from peers, making good grades
- Too many extracurricular activities – no time for casual play, daydreaming, or leisure activities
- Television – viewing distressing images – news coverage of natural disasters, terrorism, wars
- Inappropriate movies – violence, horror
- Death or loss of a loved one
- Self care or being in daycare for extended time – causes loneliness for parent, lost time with parent, caring for younger siblings
Ways to relieve childhood stress:
- Talking about worries or fears
- Learning to relax
- Set realistic expectations
Parents can help prevent stress in children:
- Providing a safe and secure home
- Being selective about television viewing
- Encouraging physical activity
- Preparing children for stressful events
- Giving opportunities to make choices
- helps in the stress response to have some control over life's situations