Stress, whether ongoing or temporary, manifests itself in a variety of ways, most notably affecting mental health. Stressed individuals may exhibit an inability to concentrate, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and even depression. It also often impacts overall physical health with various ailments, such as headaches, chronic pain, hives, stomach problems, and susceptibility to disease due to lowered immunity. Typically, we associate stress with adulthood, but it can truly be experienced at almost any age.
Children, Teens, and Stress
It can be easy to forget that children also deal with stress, partly because their symptoms are different than an adult’s. Meeting certain behavioral or academic expectations, handling friendships, school, and family problems are all areas that may result in stress and anxiety in young children and teens. Paying close attention to your child’s behavior can provide the biggest clue that he or she may be experiencing a difficult time coping.
Symptoms to Watch For
Many children have a hard time expressing and controlling their emotions. Anxiety, depression, and feeling hurt are often expressed through negative behavior. Noticing the following changes in your child may indicate that there is a problem:
- Change in sleep patterns
- Change in appetite
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Avoidance of activities the child once enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Physical pain (head, stomach, or other unexplained pain)
- Inability to concentrate
How to Help
It’s important to address any changes in your child’s behavior. Something that looks like rebellion may be a cry for help, and approaching a child with love will help soothe the situation. Negative consequences that usually come with poor behavior could end up making an underlying issue worse. In order to help alleviate any current stress, or prevent future events from adding too much on their plate, try these specific steps:
- Inform your child of changes in the home
- Use quality time to deepen the relationship
- Provide consistency and structure for feelings of security
- “Walk the walk” – Model healthy behavior for your child
- Encourage physical activity and time outdoors
When to Seek Help
If symptoms do not go away or seem to worsen, seek professional help right away. A doctor can help rule out possibilities of physical issues, and a counselor or psychologist can advise what steps should be taken. Should you have any concerns about your child’s physical or mental well being, contact us today.