Children feel stress just as much as adults but do not have the same understanding. Many children have to cope with family disputes, divorce, abuse of self and others, constant changes in schools, child care arrangements, peer pressure, and sometimes even violence in their homes or communities.

There are many different signs of stress, but these are also signs of other conditions and illnesses. Any sudden change in behaviour in children that is not related to developmental stages is cause for concern. When stress  affects a child’s life to the extent that s/he is so feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or physically ill, the action needs to be taken

Causes of Childhood Stress

  • Lack of confidence
  • Exams
  • Fear of heights, spiders,  the  dark, mice,  being alone, dragons and monsters…
  • Headaches
  • Food addictions and cravings
  • Dyslexia
  • Travel sickness
  • Sibling rivalry
  • Coping with change
  • Homework
  • Worrying about relationships, family, friends, teachers,
  • Bullying,
  • Body image
  • Abuse
  • Shyness
  • High Expectations
  • Scary Movies
  • Death of a family member, friend or pet

child-stress

Signs and Symptoms to look for:

INFANTS

  • Uncharacteristic behaviour – temper tantrums, bed wetting, thumb sucking
  • Refusal to go to childminder, school, other adults
  • Clingy
  • Crying for no obvious reason
  • Nervous and edgy at the sound of loud noises.
  • Complaints of stomach ache, headaches
  • Food refusal

6-11

bubblesChildren of school age are more able to tell you they are feeling stress. However, whether they are able to express it or not, they can also develop physical symptoms and demonstrate uncharacteristic behaviours.bubbles

  • stomach aches
  • headaches, coughs, sore throats
  • sleep problems. nightmares
  • no appetite or wanting to eat all the time
  • slow recovery from illness
  • stammering or stuttering
  • weak bladder
  • teeth grinding,  nail biting
  • bullying others
  • aggression
  • school refusal
  • poor school work
  • accident prone
  • disobedient and rude

These behaviours are deemed to be the child’s coping strategy as well as a cry for help.  If the child determines that these strategies are working then the behaviour pattern will become habitual and is harder to change.