Teens and Kids
Children, Teens, and Parents
Most children and teens are experiencing stress levels higher than are consider healthy. School is the top source of stress for children, and for teens, it’s the pressure of getting into a good college or finding a job after graduation.
For many young people, this stress manifests itself as emotional and physical symptoms. More than a quarter of teens report feeling overwhelmed, having negative thoughts, or changes in sleeping habits. More than a third report feeling tired, nervous or anxious, or experiencing irritability and anger.
The bad news: nearly a 1 in 3 teens also said they weren’t sure if they were doing enough to manage their stress.
The good news: we can help you help your child learn to keep stress in check.
At the East Bay Center for Anxiety Relief, we have trained clinicians who work with children ages 3 and older. Our unique assessment process allows us to understand your child or teen, and determine if they are motivated to create change in their life. If your child is interested and wants to manage their stress, habits and relationships better, we work with them individually — and include parent or family sessions as needed. Alternatively, if your child isn’t interested in working with us, we offer parenting sessions that can help you help them.
Contact us now – 510-748-0637 or schedule online
- Changes in appetite. In the short term, stress suppresses the appetite. Prolonged stress has the opposite effect. Long-term stress releases cortisol, which increases appetite (usually causing cravings for high-fat, sugary foods).
- Withdrawal from activities and friends. Stress can lead children to abandon people and things they used to provide joy—they may lose motivation or feel they’re not good enough.
- Irritability and impatience. Children dealing with intense stress experience strong emotions. Not knowing how to deal with these feelings, they often become moody and lash out at those around them.
- Bedwetting. Stress doesn’t cause a child to wet the bed, but some manifestations of stress — seeking comfort by eating salty snacks (that cause water retention) and sleep deprivation — can make bedwetting worse in a child who is already prone to the problem.
- Sleep problems. Stress puts the mind on overdrive. This can cause insomnia, nightmares, resistance to going to bed, or trying to work their way into the parents’ bed.
- Attempts to get out of school. Frequent trips to the school nurse and/or complaining that they “feel sick” in the morning and should be allowed to stay home are common symptoms of stress. A particularly major red flag is if kids try to get out of school on the day of an important exam.
- Unusual and unexplained crying spells. Stress causes frustration. Younger kids especially may react to this frustration by bursting into tears.
- Stomachaches and digestive problems. The fight-or-flight reaction triggered by stress causes a surge in adrenaline that primes the body to react to danger. Since that energy is diverted from non-essential functions such as digestion, it can cause digestive problems.
- Excessive worry and negative thoughts. In older students, frequent statements such as “What if I don’t get into a good college?” or “What if I don’t get into the Honor Society?” can be signs of academic stress.
- Drop in grades. Often, stress results from being overscheduled or taking classes that are beyond a student’s ability. Grades often suffer as a result. A child who is worried about keeping up, measuring up, not missing out, and not falling behind also may be equally worried about letting their parents down. This can lead a child into murky thinking and a dangerous belief that there’s no way out.
- Headaches and stomachaches. Frequent headaches and stomachaches may be a sign of stress.
- Sleep Issues. Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep can be a sign of stress. An overtired teen is less likely to be able to tolerate stress. Some stressed-out teens sleep too much. A teen who always wants to go back to bed after school or one who tries to sleep all day on the weekends may be trying to escape their stress.
- Educational Problems. Some stress-related problems are related to school. If your teen’s grades have declined, or their attendance in poor, the root may be stress-related.
- Increased Irritability. Although teens can be moody by nature, a stressed-out teen is likely to more irritable than usual.
- Changes in Socialization. Social isolation can be a sign your teen is struggling. Spending more time in their room or avoiding friends could mean your teen is stressed.
- Frequent Illness. Stress affects the immune system. Stressed-out teens are more likely to get colds and other minor illnesses. They may miss school, project deadlines, exams or social events due to increased illness.
- Negative Changes in Behavior. Behavior problems often result when a teen is stressed out. You may see behavior problems ranging from skipping school to talking back. Don’t excuse negative behavior just because it’s stress-related, however.
- Difficulty Concentrating. When teens have a lot on their mind, it’s hard for them to concentrate on their work. They may become easily distracted in class and might have increased difficulty staying on task while doing homework or chores.
- Negative Talk. You’ll often hear stressed out teens use a lot of negative talk. For example, a teen may say things like, “No one likes me,” or “Nothing ever seems to go right.” Although it’s normal for teens to sometimes make these comments, if you’re hearing them too often, it’s likely a sign of stress.
- General Sense of Worry. Stressed teens often worry about anything and everything. They may worry about all the possible bad things that could happen or they may worry about how others will perceive them. If your teen has been expressing more worry than usual, it might be due to stress.