- Mental Health
- Substance Use
- Healthy Living
Stress in Children and Youth
Stress is our body’s way of telling us that we’re struggling to cope with all of our demands or that we have to deal with a problem. Some stress isn’t a bad thing. It might give us the energy to finish a work project, for example. But too much stress is hard on our bodies. It can cause physical problems like headaches and sleep problems. It affects the way our bodies fight infections like a cold , so we’re more likely to get sick when we’re stressed. Too much stress is also bad for our mental health. It can leave us feeling tired, irritable, or depressed. It affects our ability to think, concentrate and react. Too much stress may even be a factor in our risk of developing a mental disorder or having a relapse.
Like adults, children and youth feel stress too. Children and youth feel stress for the same reasons as adults—they have a lot to deal with! Day-to-day demands like going to school, making friends, fitting in and getting along with siblings are stressful. Children and youth may feel more stress at certain times, such as starting school, moving, experiencing changes in their body, or coping with illness or loss in the family.
Children and youth may have different ways of showing and dealing with stressors in their lives. For instance, they may complain of stomach aches, have difficulty sleeping, act out, be irritable or angry, or withdraw from others when stressed.
Everyone feels stress from time to time. We can’t always control the things that cause stress, but we can control how we cope with stress. This is called stress management. One of the most important things parents can do is model healthy coping skills. This means using stress management skills in your day-to-day life and helping your child practice these skills. Different people find different stress management skills helpful. Some tactics you might find helpful include:
Tips for a low-stress home