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Common causes of stress in children

Although stress and anxiety have usually been considered as a condition of adults, it is proven that children also suffer, even from the first months of life, because among its causes are the constant changes in our environment, which directly influence them.

Signs of stress and anxiety in children often appear as physical or behavioral changes.

Keep in mind that children respond differently to stress depending on their age, their individual personality and coping skills among other things, so many parents may overlook the underlying problems that may be causing the behavior of their children. It is important that parents recognize the signs of childhood stress and in this way look for possible causes. The family can usually help children manage their stress and anxiety, but in some cases, it is positive that they can benefit from professional help.

The stage of childhood is full of changes and new experiences, the physical development that involves the change of teeth, an increase in body volume and height, as well as the fact of advancing at the school level, having new teachers and classmates every year. Stress in children begins when they have difficult behaviors, most teachers or parents think they are having a bad behavior for other reasons, but what we see is that these behaviors are derived from situations of tension in which children are unstable and confused.

Do children know they have stress? How is a stressed child?

In many cases, children do not know well how to identify emotionally what makes them feel bad, for example in an argument between their parents, but their body does react, and specialists can detect the physiological changes that are recorded while watching their children discuss parents, through measurements such as heart rate, peripheral temperature, and muscle response, which show the presence of stress.

Stress is a necessary response for life, we all live with it but at low levels, the key is to know how to channel it so that it acts in our favor and make it an ally so that children can take advantage of it and reach their goals while free from him.

Children may not recognize their own anxiety and often lack enough maturity to explain their real or imaginary stressful problems. This can cause a variety of physical and behavioral signs to arise, and parents may not be sure if they are anxiety symptoms or a health problem. That is why we give you some information about the usual signs.

Some common signs of stress and anxiety:

  • Difficulty to focus
  • Behavioral changes, such as bad mood, aggression, bad temper or clinging.
  • Fears (fear of the dark, being alone or strangers)
  • Development of a nervous habit, such as nail-biting.
  • Isolating from family or friends
  • Refusing to go to school.
  • Get into trouble at school
  • Accumulate elements of apparent insignificance
  • Appetite increase or decreases.
  • Complaints of stomach aches or headaches.
  • Sleep problems or nightmares.

Common causes of child stress

The source of anxiety and stress in children can be something external, such as a problem at school, changes in the family or a conflict with a friend. Feelings of anxiety can also be caused by a child’s internal pressures, such as wanting to do well in school or fit in with their classmates. Some common causes of stress in children include:

Big changes in the family

Some of the important changes in life that can cause stress in children can be for example divorce, a death in the family, moving or the birth of a new brother. These strong changes can shake your child’s world. Major changes in life can hit a child’s sense of security, and this can lead to confusion and anxiety. For example, a new brother can make a child feel threatened and jealous.

Parental instability

Money and work concerns, family turmoil can generate an overwhelming sense of helplessness for children who may feel they want to help but do not have the means to do so.

Schedules too tight

Running constantly from one activity to another can cause a lot of stress to children who generally need quiet time and idle time from time to time.

Academic pressure

Many children experience anxiety about wanting to be good at school. Academic pressure is particularly common in the most perfect children who are afraid of making mistakes or who fear not being good at something.


For younger elementary school children, separation anxiety can be a common problem. As they grow older, most children want to fit in with other children, and the pressure to fit in and become popular can be agonizing for some children in certain periods.


Bullying is a serious problem for many children. It can be subtle or obvious and can cause physical damage. Children who are bullied often feel ashamed of being attacked, and may hide harassment from parents or teachers for fear of calling attention to their alleged weaknesses.

Bad news in the media

News headlines and images that show natural disasters, terrorism and violence can be annoying for children. When children see and hear about terrible news, they may worry that something bad can happen to them or to someone they love.

For that reason, although we cannot exclude them from real life, if it is important that at home they are not constantly watching television or radio listening to the news over and over again daily, and when for whatever reason they see it they should be explained by adults so that they can understand and not be left with doubts and fears.

A horror movie or a book

Some fiction stories can also cause anxiety or anxiety in children. Children are commonly affected by scary, violent or disturbing scenes from a movie or passages from a book. Some children may be more sensitive to media content than others, and it is a good idea to know what might bother your children, to limit the content of violent media and stick to movies, books, video games, and other media appropriate for their age. .

How do I help my kid with stress?

There are healthy ways in which your child can cope and respond to stress, they just need a little help and guidance. Some of the ways you can help:

At home

Make your home a quiet and safe place to visit.

Create a relaxed home environment and committed to a certain routine. Family dinners or game nights can prevent anxiety and help relieve everyday stress.

Communication is an important point to achieve the confidence of the children, to the extent that parents approach the little ones, and are willing to listen to them and understand everything that may be important to them, bonding is created, trust and love, which are decisive for children to reach full development and without the presence of such negative elements as stress.

Learn to really listen to him, without being constantly critical or solving problems for him. It is best to provide guidance to teach you ways to understand and solve the problems that disturb you.

Keep them involved

It’s good to let your child know about any anticipated changes and talk to him about the new scenarios. For example, if you are going to start a new job in a new city, what will it mean for them in terms of a new school, new friends and a new home?

Engage him in social and sports activities where he can succeed by doing something he likes. Give him opportunities where he can have control over a situation in his life.

Your actions

Adopt healthy habits such as exercise and personal care to control your own stress in a healthy way. Children often mimic their parents’ behaviors.

All the information that we give you in this article is for orientation since each child and each family is different and unique.

Carolina González Ramos

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