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Coping with Stress

How Anxiety and Stress can Affect Children
Always Consult Your Pediatrician First

University of Wisconsin - UW Health

Children may not recognize that they are stressed. Parents may suspect that the child is excessively stressed if the child has experienced a potentially stressful situation and begins to have symptoms such as:

  • Physical symptoms

    • Headache

    • Upset stomach or vague stomach pain

    • Sleep disturbances

    • Nightmares

    • New or recurrent bedwetting

    • Decreased appetite, other changes in eating habits

    • Stuttering

    • Other physical symptoms with no physical illness

  • Emotional or behavioral symptoms

    • Anxiety

    • Worries

    • Inability 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

    • Questioning (may or may not ask questions)

    • Anger

    • Crying

    • Whining

    • Inability to control emotions

    • Aggressive behavior

    • Stubborn behavior

    • Regression to behaviors that are typical of an earlier developmental stage

    • Unwillingness to participate in family or school activities


Parents can help children respond to stress in healthy ways. Following are some tips:

  • Provide a safe, secure, familiar, consistent, and dependable home.

  • Be selective in the television programs that young children watch (including news broadcasts), which can produce fears and anxiety.

  • Spend calm, relaxed time with your children.

  • Encourage your child to ask questions.

  • Encourage expression of concerns, worries, or fears.

  • Listen to your child without being critical.

  • Build your child's feelings of self-worth. Use encouragement and affection. Try to involve your child in situations where he or she can succeed.

  • Try to use positive encouragement and reward instead of punishment.

  • Allow the child opportunities to make choices and have some control in his or her life. This is particularly important, because research shows that the more people feel they have control over a situation, the better their response to stress will be.

  • Encourage physical activity.

  • Develop awareness of situations and events that are stressful for children. These include new experiences, fear of unpredictable outcomes, unpleasant sensations, unmet needs or desires, and loss.

  • Recognize signs of unresolved stress in your child.

  • Keep your child informed of necessary and anticipated changes such as changes in jobs or moving

  • Seek professional help or advice when signs of stress do not decrease or disappear.


An open, accepting flow of communication in families helps to reduce anxiety and depression in children. Encourage your children to discuss their emotions and help them discuss simple ways to change the stressful situation or their response to it.

Below are some tips that children can follow themselves to help reduce stress:

  • Talk about your problems. If you cannot communicate with your parents, try someone else that you can trust.

  • Try to relax. Listen to calm music. Take a warm bath. Close your eyes and take slow deep breaths. Take some time for yourself. If you have a hobby or favorite activity, give yourself time to enjoy it.

  • Exercise. Physical activity reduces stress.

  • Set realistic expectations. Do your best, and remember that nobody is perfect.

  • Learn to love yourself and respect yourself. Respect others. Be with people who accept and respect you.

  • Remember that drugs and alcohol never solve problems.

  • Ask for help if you are having problems managing your stress.


National Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Panic Disorder in Children   
(excerpt) Children and adolescents with panic disorder have unexpected and repeated periods of intense fear or discomfort, along with other symptoms such as a racing heartbeat or feeling short of breath. These periods are called "panic attacks" and last minutes to hours. Panic attacks frequently develop without warning. 
 For Symptoms and More
Who Is at Risk for Chronic Stress or Stress-Related Diseases?
(excerpt) No one is immune to stress, although it may go unnoticed in the very young and old.  Children are frequent victims of stress because they are often unable to communicate their feelings accurately or their responses to events over which they have no control. One study suggested that the probability of childhood behavioral difficulties in a boy is increased with the number and type of family stressors encountered in the home. Depressed or aggressive mothers are particularly powerful sources of stress, even more important than poverty or overcrowding. Adolescent boys and girls experience equal amounts of stress, but from different causes. Girls tend to become stressed from interpersonal situations and boys from events, such as changing schools or poor grades. Stress is more likely to lead to depression in girls than in boys.
                                                                                                                                                 Stressed Out Kids- Homework in kindergarten? Personal coaches for Little League? The pressures facing children today are enormous. Here's how you can lighten the load -- and restore fun to childhood.

Time to Chill - Obviously, parents can't protect their children from all stress, nor would they want to. But they can reduce the amount of stress as well as help kids manage the unavoidable pressures.

Purdue News 
Even Veteran Students can Feel Stress As School Begins 

excerpt) WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The start of a new school year can be a time of eager anticipation or high anxiety for an elementary school student. Youngsters have concerns about school whether they are attending kindergarten for the first time or are veteran third-graders the start of a new school year can be a time of eager anticipation or high anxiety for an elementary school student.






Student Support

Behavioral Issues
Stress & Anxiety


Medical News:
School Anxiety

American Academy of Pediatrics: Stress

Apples for
Stress From School Exams Cause Allergic Reactions

United Federation of Teachers:  Communicating with your child about Stress Anxiety

Helping Children Overcome
Test Anxiety

University of Wisconsin:
UW Health
 Stress in Childhood

Mental Health Association of Westchester:
Anxiety Disorders - Children & Adolescents

Anxiety in Children and Adolescents























































































































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