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Dealing with Childhood Stress

In a perfect world, we want our children to be happy and carefree. We want them to go about their days without without having to deal with stress. But stress is a function of the demands that are placed on us and our ability to meet them.

Children and adults experience stress differently. It’s important for adults to recognize the signs of childhood stress and possible causes. Adults can help manage stress. Sometimes it may even be an anxiety disorder where children will benefit more from professional help.

The holidays are usually a stressful time for everyone involved. Parents can even project some of their stress to their children. Beyond that there are other things that lead to stress in children.

From school, changes in family or conflicts with their friends, stress can happen at anytime. This stress can lead to anxiety. As a parent you may notice the following happen emotionally and behaviorally:

-Difficulty concentrating

-Getting into trouble in school

-Refusal to go to school

-Behavioral changes such as moodiness, aggression or neediness

-Withdrawing from family and friends

Sometimes stress can be seen physically. Younger children may pick up new habits like thumb sucking or hair twirling. Here are a few physical symptoms:

-Headaches or stomach aches

-Decreased/increased appetite

-Sleep issues

Knowing the signs can help you recognize that there may be a problem and help you identify the source of the stress. Feeling overwhelmed with academic pressure, bullying in school or separation from parents can all cause stress in children and adolescents. Even having a full schedule and not enough self-care time can lead to stress.  Identifying the sources of stress is another step in helping reduce it.

These are a few ways you can help your child:

At Home:

-Make your home a calm and safe space. Create their own space.

-Monitor their shows, games, books and multimedia.

-Create routines. Game nights, dinner and even family reading can help reduce stress.


-Give them opportunities to have control of situations.

-Find social and sports activities they can succeed.

-Keep them informed on upcoming changes.

Your own actions can help children deal with stress too. Showing children how you react to situations can teach them how to better deal with stress. Reacting in a calm way to certain situations will set the example of that not all events have to be handled in a way that causes more stress to yourself and those around you.

Physical activities or after school group involvement is another way to ease your child’s stress. Some therapies like Adventure Therapy or Yoga can give your child a sense of accomplishment. Art Therapy is another great way to have your child calmly reflect on what they are experiencing in the moment and use it on other life moments. Giving them natural tools to deal with stress in their own way can be a great asset throughout life. Alta offers these alternative-therapies at Alta’s Center for Mental Health & Wellness at the Campus of Care.

If you think your child is experiencing anxiety too frequently, it may be time to seek the help of a professional. Either talk to your primary care physician or call Alta Behavioral Healthcare at (330) 793-2487. If their anxiety is a danger to themselves or others, please call 911.