Kids Have Stress Too! (Part 1)

Stress is normal and occurs on a daily basis to everyone.  However, high levels of chronic stress at a young age can lead to difficulties with behaviour, sleep, learning,  relationships, and can even predispose your child to health problems as an adult. However, parents are sometimes unaware of the stress in their child’s life or how they might help their child effectively relieve stress.


Here are some tips to help you recognize situations where your child might be stress…

Children experience stress when they

  •  have to wait or they are rushed/hurried (out the door to school!)
  • want something they can’t have (or lost their toy, broke their toy etc)
  • are exposed to something new (starting new school, or daycare)
  • lack stability (frequent change of caregivers, separation from parents, frequent moves)
  • have too many expectations or demands put on them
  • have fights with their siblings or are being bullied
  • experience a death or a serious health condition in the family

Signs that your child is overstressed….

  • Feeling unwell (recurring headaches, tummy aches)
  • Nervous habits (hair twisting, nail biting, thumb sucking)
  • Explosions (habit of overreacting to minor problems)
  • Trouble with daily activities such as eating and sleeping
  • Mood – irritable, sad, anger, anxious
  • Low energy or hyperactivity
  • “Acting out” behaviour: biting, kicking, acting, being impulsive, whining, crying, fighting

sad-child with dad

Parents are crucial to helping kids deal with their day to day stress, they cannot cope by themselves.  The three basic things that children need are

  1. Connection – secure relationships with their parents and caregivers.  Children need to know that they have somebody to trust and support them
  2. Stability – they can handle stress better when their environment provides them with a healthy balanced lifestyle.  They also need parents who are not overwhelmed with stress.
  3. Comfort – the comfort of a hug or a smile can be extremely positive.

More on stress management and Resiliency in part 2!…

Categories: Ask A Pediatrician, Behaviour and Development, Parenting, Physical Activity, Sleep

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