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April 2, 2011

Symptoms of Stress in Children

Author: JenniferMaster1

Children’s minds are as complex as adults. They also experience stress from life events. The difference is that children have a hard time recognizing their feelings as stress. The sources of stress can either come from themselves or from the environment they live in (e.g. family, friends, schools or news events).

The symptoms of stress in children are often easy to recognize. There a two things especially to look for: atypical behavior and a change in a child’s behavior. For example: mood swings, acting out, changes in sleep patterns, or inability to control one’s bowel or bladder can be indicators of stress. Children might also experience physical symptoms, such a stomach aches and headaches.

Stress is an event which causes thoughts and feelings that cause a child to act in an abnormal way. A certain amount of stress can be healthy. But an excess of stress may be harmful to your child. Learning to recognize stress in your child is important so you can teach your child how to better cope with stress.

The following list shows ways to recognize stress. The presence of only 1 or 2 of these behaviors may not be indicative of high levels of stress. However, the ongoing presence of several of these behaviors may indicate that the child is experiencing severe stress that should be dealt with in ways to decrease the stress.

*Doesn’t respond to parent or caregiver
*Daydreams frequently
*Has frequent temper tantrums
*Cries a lot
*Acts in a defiant manner (says “I don’t care” frequently)
*Calls self bad names like “stupid” or punishes self
*Is overly sensitive to mild, constructive criticism
*Proudly reports hurting others
*Is highly demanding
*Clings to parent or caregiver
*Preoccupied with fears and frightening images
*Has a dull, vacant expression
*Is overly active or wanders listlessly around the room
*Displays disturbed bodily functions (diarrhea, wet pants, constipation or frequent nausea)
*Talks compulsively about physical dangers and threats either for themselves or to others
*Grinds teeth during nap or sleep
*Cannot concentrate on an activity or request
*Stutters
*Displays aggressive behavior toward self and/or others
*Has frequent nightmares
*Displays aggressive, destructive, or punitive play which is repeated often.

For a free video on stress management techniques to use on adults or children, click here and register at the top of the page. Watch for a follow up article on this blog entitled “Helping Children Cope with Stress”.

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13 Responses to “Symptoms of Stress in Children”

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  2. Great list of symptoms to look out for in changes in behavior of children. Counseling can be helpful for children. I lot of healing can occur in children even though they are ” playing games and drawing. Child counseling is different from adult counseling.

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