Stress Awareness Month: 6 Signs Your Child is Stressed

April is Stress Awareness Month. Read up on these six signs that your child might be stressed, and find ways to help.
Stressed Young Girl with Stack of Books
Table of contents

As adults, we're bound to feel stressed out from time to time. After all, bills have to be paid, work has to get done and food has to be put on the table. However, it's easy to miss the fact that our kids can sometimes get stressed out, too. Homework, extracurricular activities, and conflicts with peers can all take a toll on your little ones. And chronic stress can have negative effects on our kids – especially since they often don't have the tools to cope. Therefore, in honor of Stress Awareness Month, here are six signs and symptoms your kid might be stressed:

1. Withdrawn Behavior

Stressed Girl in School Classroom

Kids who are struggling with stress tend to act withdrawn. They don't seem to enjoy the same things they used to, or seem a little hesitant to join in with their peers.

2. Unexplained Aches and Pains

Stress can manifest in physical ways as well. Kids under stress tend to complain about unexplained headaches and stomachaches when they have a perfectly clean bill of health.

3. Sleeplessness (or Sleeping More)

Child Taking Nap with Pet Cat

Photo source: Flickr

Any change in sleep patterns can indicate that your child is stressed. For instance, all of a sudden they can't wake up in time for school. Or, they've suddenly become a night owl who refuses to go to bed before midnight.

4. Loss of Appetite or Overeating

Likewise, any change in eating patterns can indicate stress. Your child may eat much more than usual or seem to exist on nothing at all.

5. Irritability

Stressed Young Boy Yelling

Photo source: Flickr

Is your child suddenly acting out? Do they seem more irritable or cranky than usual? Kids who feel stressed don't know how to express what they are feeling, so they tend to act irritable or moody instead.

6. They Tell You

Some kids will complain about their worries or stressors, while others will clam up. Be sure to talk to your kids about stress to get a better handle on if she's feeling any. Ask questions like, "Do you know what stress means?" "Do you ever feel stressed?" "What makes you feel stress?" "How do you deal with it?"

If you notice any of these signs of stress, don't panic. There are ways to help equip your kids with the tools they need to not only deal with the stress they have now, but also throughout their entire lives. Following these tips to help your child deal with stress.

Talk About It

Talk to your child about stress and explain that it's a normal part of life. Share your own stressors and the ways you help cope with them. Pave the road to open communication with your child about stress so she knows she can come to you during other stressful times in the future.

Provide Effective Strategies

Young Boys Playing Basketball in Gym Class

Photo source: Flickr

Give your child effective strategies to deal with the stress, such as physical activity, breathing exercises or meditation. Older kids might also like journaling or creating artwork to express their feelings.

Handle Stress Yourself

As with most things when it comes to parenting, actions speak louder than words. Make sure you are appropriately managing your own stress and your child will be more likely to follow suit.

Visit the Doc

If stress becomes a constant problem and none of the above tips seem to help your child, it might be time to visit your child's pediatrician to rule out a bigger issue, such as anxiety.

In honor of Stress Awareness Month, take some time to talk to your child about stress and the ways we can cope.