Parents may not know how to recognize stress in their child. Look for these signs of stress in older children & adolescents…

  • Changes in mood (not typical for your child) – irritability, rage, & new conflicts with friends.
  • A new nervous habit, such as nail-biting may indicate anxiety.
  • New fears – such as fear of the dark, being alone, fears of burglars, or strangers.
  • Getting into trouble at school.
  • Refusal to go to school – always a red flag for stress.
  • Loss of interest in activities they like – for instance, giving up on music or a favorite sport.
  • Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much.
  • New bedwetting, always a sign of trouble.
  • New complaints of stomachaches or headaches.
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or eating patterns – like saying, “I’m not hungry” or eating all the time.
  • Not interested in schoolwork, or poor academic effort.
  • Can’t think, focus, or concentrate may be due to stress.
  • Changes in appearance – looking sloppy & dirty, or lacking in personal hygiene (especially for teens).
  • Changes in behavior, such as backing off personal relationships. Is your outgoing teen no longer interested in texting or video chatting with friends?
  • Increased risky behaviors – using weed, drugs, or alcohol, especially in adolescents.
  • Talking about suicide. This is never normal. Please get help.

Common causes of stress in children include…

Anxiety about school is a child’s #1 stressor.  School causes academic pressure for children who fear making mistakes and anxiety about the Covid virus & wearing masks all day. Children may have anxiety about having a learning disability.

Other causes of stress include:

  • Changes in the family – for instance, a new sibling, a divorce, moving to a new school or city, or a death in the family (think Covid).
  • Parental problems – money concerns, job loss, family chaos, & parental irritability or agitation (drug use, alcoholism). You may think they don’t, but they do know what is going on at home.
  • Overly packed schedules – too many activities, constantly running from one activity to the next. No down time may stress kids.
  • Bullying – whether subtle, or obvious. Children who are bullied may be embarrassed & hide or deny the bullying from parents & teachers. Bullying can destroy a child’s self-esteem.
  • Being different – the child who is a loner, a social misfit, or one who has a disability may feel alone & anxious already.
  • News headlines (on TV or another screen) – images of forest fires, hurricanes, or gun violence.
  • Scary movies or books – movie scenes that are scary or violent, stories in books that scare them.
  • Popularity in school – Children want to fit in with other kids & be liked. By fourth grade, the pressure to be popular is real. Cliques – especially for girls – & feeling excluded become an issue in grade school.
  • Just like us, many things can cause your child to feel stress.

Please go to for more information.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)