Dealing with Stress in Children

What Causes It, How Does It Show Up, and How To Handle It
Stress squiggles inside a thought bubble

Stress is a normal part of life. It affects everyone from babies to the elderly. However, stress manifests differently in children and adolescents. Stress in children might look a little different, but there are still tools you can use to cope. 

What is stress?

Stress is a physical and emotional response to a situation that is perceived as demanding or threatening.

Where does stress come from for kids?

Stress can come from a variety of sources for children and adolescents such as:

  • Changes in their home life
  • Conflict with peers
  • School demands
  • Societal pressure perceived through social media
  • Any other challenging situation that causes pressure

What does stress do to a person?

Stress can have a significant impact on a person's well-being. It can lead to physical and mental symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Digestive issues
  • A weakened immune system
  • Feelings of anxiety, depression, and burnout

Some additional signs of stress in children and adolescents could appear as:

  • Physical exhaustion
  • Moodiness
  • Isolation
  • Easily overwhelmed
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased worries

How can we deal with stress in children?

There are many ways to destress and manage the effects of stress. Some examples of destressing activities include:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Spending time in nature
  • Listening to calming music
  • Reading
  • Talking to a support person
  • Practicing a hobby

Young children can destress by playing or utilizing expressive art therapies. It's important to find what works best for you and to make time for self-care regularly.

What if stress is too much?

Stress affects everyone, and if it gets to be too much for you or your child there is help available. Mental health counselors, like the those at The Village, often specialize in stress and can provide tools to cope. Whether it's you or your child feeling overwhelmed by stress, remember this: you don't have to go it alone.

Meet the Author: Alli Flink

Allie Flink headshot

Alli Flink, MSW, LCSW, is an outpatient therapist at The Village's Bismarck office. Alli enjoys working with young children and their families, as well as adolescents and young adults. She utilizes expressive therapies including play, art, and sand tray when working with young children. She is experienced in working with a variety of mental health concerns including anxiety, depression, and trauma.

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