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behavioralhealthWe all feel stress. And children aren’t immune to the pressure. They may struggle with school, sports, and other daily demands. A recent national survey shows stress can be especially troubling for teenagers.

Gauging stress in children

Every year, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducts a survey to measure stress in the U.S. The survey asks teens about their stress. A score of 1 meant no stress. A score of 10 meant high levels of stress. Teenagers are reporting more stress in their life. Teens averaged 5.8, adults were at 5.1. School is the most common stressor for teens. Most report feeling stressed during the school year. They are also concerned about college and family finances. Many adolescents said they had trouble balancing school and other activities.

Spotting stress in your child

Stress can manifest in many ways. It can affect your child physically and emotionally. Long-term stress can especially take a toll. Irritability and anger are the 2 most common signs of stress. Many teens also suffered fatigue, headaches, and upset stomach. Your child may not tell you if he or she feels stressed. But certain symptoms may point to a problem. These include:

  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • A lack of interest in once-favorite activities
  • A drop in grades or other problems at school
  • Frequent headaches or upset stomach
  • Trouble sleeping

Helping Your Child Cope with Stress

Every child deals with stress differently. Some children play video games or surf the internet. These activities may be distracting. But they aren’t the best strategies for coping with stress. If you notice your child struggling with stress, try these tips:

  • Talk with your child.
  • Let him or her know you are interested in any problems.
  • Listening closely and not interrupting can go a long way.
  • Plan some family exercise time, such as a walk or bike ride.
  • Physical activity can naturally boost your child’s mood.
  • Encourage your child to eat a healthy breakfast. It can give him or her energy for the day to come.
  • Buy your child a journal. Writing down the day’s events can help clear your child’s mind.
  • Watch a funny movie together. Laughter is a great way to feel better fast.
  • Set a good example. Children often emulate how their parents deal with stress.

If you need help understanding stress or how you may best help your teens cope with daily stress, Fort HealthCare can help. Contact your Primary Care Provider or learn about our Integrated Behavioral Health Services at: