As adults, we tend to think of children as perpetually happy and carefree. But, even kids can get stressed out. It’s important to recognize normal stress levels versus stress that needs to be addressed by a doctor or therapist. Here are some warning signs to watch for.
Common Childhood Stressors
Kids begin to experience stress at a very young age. Often, preschoolers will suffer from separation anxiety because they don’t want to be away from their parents and this is a form of stress. As children get older, academic demands can be overwhelming. A child might get stressed by receiving a bad grade. If they participate in extra-curricular activities such as sports, they may feel a need to measure up and be the best. If they are unable to live up to the standards they feel are expected, they may become even more stressed. It’s also possible that such activities can take away from study time, leading to lower grades. It may be necessary to scale back on after-school activities to mitigate the child’s stress level.
Sometimes, parents get stressed out as well. If your child hears you complaining about your job, the stress you are feeling will be picked up by them. Maybe you are having financial difficulties. Be careful to discuss such issues when your child is present. Although we think kids don’t worry about adult problems, they do and it is best to only discuss such issues when your child is away from you.
When to Seek Professional Help
Life is good at throwing us curve balls and stressful situations can come out of nowhere. Adults can process their own feelings and have developed coping mechanisms to deal with these situations. Children, on the other hand, may have trouble dealing with feelings of stress when a major life event is the cause of the stress. For example, most children would have a difficult time coping with the death of a loved one, divorce, or another traumatic event. In this case, it would be wise to consult a doctor or someone with an online master of social work. These professionals are trained to help children sort out their feelings and develop the proper coping skills to get them through a stressful time.
Keep in mind that every individual, including very small children, experience stress. It is a part of life. But, you must be able to recognize abnormal stress in a child and take the proper steps, which include involving a professional, to help that child deal with the stress.