Child Stress

To adults, childhood can seem like a carefree time. But children still experience stress. Things like school and their social life can sometimes create pressures that can feel overwhelming.

As a parent, you can't always protect your children from stress — but you can help them develop healthy ways to cope with stress and solve everyday problems. 

What are the signs?

Children may not recognise that they are stressed, but below are the physical, emotional or behavioural signs that may cause you to suspect your child has increased stress levels.

Physical Symptoms Emotional/Behavioural Symptoms
  • Decreased appetite, other changes in eating habits
  • Headaches
  • New or recurrent bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Upset stomach or vague stomach pain
  • Other physical symptoms with no physical illness
  • Anxiety, worry
  • Not able to relax
  • New or recurring fears (fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of strangers)
  • Clinging, unwilling to let you out of sight
  • Anger, crying, whining
  • Not able to control emotions
  • Aggressive or stubborn behaviour
  • Going back to behaviours present when a younger age
  • Doesn't want to participate in family or school activities

Helping a child manage stress

If you notice that your child is getting stressed out, no matter what the cause is, there are things you can do to help them cope.

Let your child know you are there for them if they ever need to talk to you about how they are feeling. We have tips on having age appropriate conversations with your child about emotional wellbeing here

Talk to children about the physical signs of stress to help them recognise the way it feels. You can then look to explore solutions together on how to manage feeling stressed. 

You can watch this short animation together to help your child understand the impact of stress on their bodies and for a few suggestions on how they can deal with it.

Click on the headings below for tips on how you can help your child manage stress.

Listening

Start a conversation

Help your child recognise emotions

Support your child to find a solution

Support self-esteem and promote independence

Get into a routine

Role model