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Stress in Children and Teens

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Children and teens notice and react to stress in their family and also experience their own stress. It is important to recognize stress in children and teens and help them with healthy coping strategies. The strategies they learn often stay with them into adulthood.

Generally, anything that may cause children fear and anxiety can cause stress. This can include being away from home, starting a new school or moving to a new location, being separated from parents or caregivers, worrying about school and getting along with others, worrying about their changing bodies, and worrying about the future.

The following are some common signs of stress in different age groups.

Signs of stress in children and teens

Preschool and toddlers

Elementary-age children

Preteens and teens

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Eating and sleeping problems, including nightmares
  • Fear of being alone
  • Irritability
  • Regressing to infant behaviors
  • Trembling with fright
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Withdrawal
  • Being distrustful
  • Complaining of headaches or stomachaches
  • Feeling unloved
  • Having no appetite
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Needing to urinate frequently
  • Bed-wetting
  • Not caring about school or friendship
  • Acting withdrawn
  • Worrying about the future
  • Anger
  • Disillusionment
  • Distrust of the world
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stomachaches and headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Rebellion

Helping with stress

Adults can help children and teens with stress in many ways. Two important ways are creating a low-stress environment and helping them develop positive coping skills.

The following can help develop a low-stress environment:

It is important to help children develop positive coping skills, as these skills are often carried into adult life. You can help by:


Credits for Stress in Children and Teens

Current as of: August 31, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
David A. Brent MD - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


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