Things All Kids Do When Stressed

By Sarah M 7 months ago

Show Physical Symptoms

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As adults we can spot the warning signs that our bodies give us when we are stressed, whether that is our skin breaking out or frequent tension headaches. Our kids won’t be able to identify the cause of their new tummy ache for example, but it may be a symptom of stress.

Emotional Outbursts

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If your child is having what you perceive as 'tantrums' much more frequently, it might actually be a sign of stress. If your little one is crying multiple times a day and small things are causing emotional outbursts, ask yourself what could be stressing them out.

They Have Become More Clingy

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Have you noticed that your usually independent child now won't leave your side? Have they become clingy and constantly seeking extra attention and reassurance? Maybe they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, which is making being alone unbearable for them.

They Withdraw

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Even as adults we know how easy it is to go into hermit-mode when our lives become stressful. As a child who hasn't developed proper coping mechanisms yet, your little one might find comfort in introversion and choose to withdraw from social situations.

Changes In Sleep

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When we are anxious, the first thing to change is our sleep. It can feel impossible to drop off when we have a million worrying thoughts whizzing around our heads. If your child is always tired or awake whenever you go in to check on them, stress might be to blame.

Changes In Appetite

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When we are overwhelmed with anxiety it can feel impossible to eat. We are all starting to understand the effect our brains have on our gut and digestion and how stress can completely alter our appetite. If your child has stopped eating or even has started binging, consult a doctor.

Difficulty Concentrating

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Have you noticed that your child has stopped being able to focus on the task in hand, or has even lost their ability to follow a conversation without getting distracted? There might be a lot going on in their minds that you are completely unaware of.

Moodiness

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When your kid is in a bad mood, it is all too easy to blame yourself and your parenting abilities. Stop with the finger pointing and start to consider what might be causing stress in their lives. It may be as small as an upcoming assignment that's to blame.

They Worry About Everything

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Many of us remember childhood as a worry-free time in our lives before the stress of adolescence and adulthood took over. Your child shouldn't be worrying about every little thing, they should be able to focus on playing and discovering who they are.

Loss Of Interests

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One of the first signs of poor mental health in a young person is a loss of interest in things they used to enjoy. If your child seemingly can't find happiness in their hobbies or passions anymore, sit them down for a honest and confidential chat about their feelings.

Changes In Educational Performance

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Does your child usually excel in their studies but has suddenly seen a big dip in grades? Stress could be to blame. We often think that the way to help our child to succeed is to push them academically, but this will often have the opposite effect and just make them stressed!

Separation Anxiety

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Is your child overwhelmed with worry whenever you are apart? Do they cry whenever they have to leave for school or when you head out to work? They could be experiencing separation anxiety, which can stem from extreme stress in other areas of their life.

Nail Biting

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When we are stressed, we can take it out on our bodies in little ways like picking at our skin or biting our nails. If you have noticed that your child's nails are short and bitten, don't tell them off, instead ask them if anything is making them feel anxious.

Fidgeting

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Have you noticed that your once calm child just can’t keep still? It can be difficult for young people to process the intense emotion of stress, so they might redirect the energy into fidgeting. If your child is restless, consider investing in a fidget spinner to calm them.

Regressive Behaviour

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There comes a point in childhood where we say goodbye to behaviours like thumb sucking, bedwetting or carrying around a soft toy. If your child seems to have suddenly regressed back to these sort of behaviours, it may be an avoidance technique to alleviate stress.

Refusal To Go To School

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Now, I'm not saying that every child who tries to fake a sick day is suffering from anxiety, we've all done that! However, if your little one will do everything they can to stay home, it might be a sign that something or someone at school is causing them stress.

Lack Of Hygiene

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When we are feeling happy and confident, we take pleasure in maintaining our personal hygiene and feeling fresh and ready for the day ahead. If your child has lost all desire to brush their teeth or comb their hair, it's a tell-tale sign of poor mental health.

New Fears

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If your child is suddenly displaying fear or anxiety over specific situations or upcoming events, it's time to ask yourself why. If their birthday party was something they were excited for but is now a source of dread, it could be a warning sign of social anxiety.

Difficulty Making Decisions

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A lot of us can empathise with the difficulty to make decisions, especially when we are already feeling a bit frazzled! If your child can never decide what they want to eat, what to wear or even what to put on the TV, they may be overwhelmed and stressed.

Less Imagination

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Childhood should be the time when our imagination and playfulness are at their strongest. If you notice your kid has lost all of their creativity or desire to play, it is probably a sign of something internal. Show them love and care and let them know they can confide in you.

Pacing About

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A key sign that your child is experiencing stress or worry is that they will engage in repetitive behaviours. You may notice your kid rocking whilst eating dinner or pacing back and forth. This may be their body's attempt to ground itself when experiencing stress.

They Want To Be Alone

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When you try to emotionally connect with your child, do they brush you off and go back to their room? They may not have the language yet to explain their emotions, which will leave them feeling vulnerable and may be the reason behind their need for isolation.

Change In Friendships

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When you ask your kid about a certain friend, do they withdraw? Or do they appear to suddenly have a new group of friends all together? If you can sense that your child has been through a change in friendship dynamics, discuss it with them as this could be the cause of their stress.

More Sensitive To Their Environment

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A heightened sensitivity to noise and light is a sure sign your child is overwhelmed. Especially in neurodivergent children, when stressed, the senses can become unbearable and a loud noise or flashing lights can prompt a meltdown. Be sure to accommodate to their sensory needs.

They Become A Perfectionist

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Is your child suddenly stressing about everything being perfect? If they are scrunching up their artwork because it isn't quite right or taking hours on assignments because they worry about being wrong - it sounds as though they are under a lot of stress to succeed.

New Phobias

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Stress can manifest in lots of strange and unpleasant ways, one of which is the development of new phobias. If your child seems to develop a new fear of insects or tall buildings seemingly out of nowhere, it may be as a result of stress that has nothing to do with either of these things.

Signs of Aggression

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It's very normal for young people to go through huge hormonal shifts as they mature, causing them to act out defiantly. However, if your otherwise calm child is suddenly becoming aggressive or even violent, something bigger is at play. Consider consulting a child therapist.

Risky Behaviours

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This is a concerning moment for any parent, discovering that our child has started to engage in dangerous behaviours like vaping or drinking alcohol. Before you fly off the handle, first ask yourself what might have prompted this? Could it be stress related?

Hopelessness

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Has your child lost all of their energy and zest for life? Do they give up easily because everything just feels pointless and hopeless? It's time to intervene as they are clearly struggling with their mental wellbeing. Be gentle and open to hearing what they have to say.

They Lie To You

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If your child has clearly been crying but tells you they haven't or claims to be going out with friends but actually stayed on their own all day, they may be hiding their mental struggles from you as well. Be cautious not to accuse them but instead make space for them to confide in you.