Childhood Stress: Signs of Stress

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childhood stressAs we briefly mentioned in a previous blog post, though children can often be stressed, they may be too young or inexperienced with stress to recognize what their emotional and behavioral reactions stem from. It’s up to you to be on the lookout for the signs of stress. However, this can be quite challenging. As we learned from the American Psychological Association and Scholastic, stress may manifest in a variety of ways in children, so keep your eyes open for the following symptoms.

Sleeping Problems

Stress can affect a child’s sleep schedule in a number of dramatic ways. Worried thoughts can keep your kids up late at night or cause restless sleeping, leading to sleep deprivation. On the other side, sleep can become a reprieve and an escape from stress, leading to oversleeping or sleeping too often. Sleeping too much or too little can both lead to feeling tired throughout the day and feeling low on energy. Stress can also lead to bad dreams and nightmares as the negative mental strain manifests as restless dreams which can lead to even more sleep deprivation.

Stress can also lead to accidents and wetting the bed.

The goal of The Dolly Lammy is to get you to breathe diaphragmatically all the time, even when you sleep, which is what happens as you begin to habitually breathe with your diaphragm and it becomes natural. Diaphragmatic breathing brings a calmer night’s rest, which may help your kids if they have troubled sleeping.


Much like adults, kids often find solace from stress in eating. Whether eating unhealthy foods like candy, desserts, and fast food or by eating too much too often, these can all be signs of stress and improper attempts to cope through the stomach.

Physical Effects

Stress can also cause some sicknesses or physical discomfort. Stress headaches and stomachaches are common symptoms of stress, both in kids and in adults.

Mood Changes

Perhaps the most difficult signs of stress to diagnose and deal with are the changes in mood. Kids may react to stress by becoming increasingly aggressive towards everything and everyone. They may overreact to little things that would otherwise not bother them and, on top of this, they may begin acting out – throwing tantrums or purposefully not listening. Or they may become overly clingy, clinging to parents or teachers, unable and unwilling to be on their own. And any of these may be a part of sudden mood swings.

Your kids may also withdraw from you and/or from the world in general, becoming more internal in an attempt to withdraw from the sources of stress.

Similar to withdrawing, your kids may suddenly lose interest in the things they normally enjoy. And stress cannot only make it hard for kids to focus on what they like, they may also have trouble focusing in school and on schoolwork.

Social Group Changes

A sudden change in social groups can be another dramatic sign of stress. If your kid is hanging out with all new friends or removing their old friends from their life, this might be an overreaction to stress – an intentional or unintentional attempt to move away from what is stressing them out.

Dramatic Changes

It’s especially important to be on the lookout for these symptoms as sudden changes. Some kids are just naturally clingy or are often withdrawn or they’re hanging out with new people because they’ve made new friend. But when a child who is normally well-mannered starts acting aggressive, or when a sound sleeper starts having nightmares, or when an outgoing child suddenly becomes withdrawn and disinterested, consider stress as the possible culprit. Take notice of when they become withdrawn or start having mood swings: is it during tests? When they’ve got a lot of homework or a big sports event? Make sure to talk with your kid and ascertain what’s bothering them and what, if anything, is stressing them out. Communication is a key solution to dealing with stress.

These symptoms of stress can all very likely cause more stress. Dealing with nightmares, with sicknesses, with mood swings, or with over eating can be a struggle and a challenge that causes more stress or amplifies the original source of stress. You child will have an even harder time keeping up with their stressful projects even more now that they’re having stomachaches and trouble sleeping. This is why it’s so important to have them breathe diaphragmatically. Breathing right gives the body the energy and the focus your kids need to approach their stresses head on, allowing them to keep what’s already stressing them out from building up.

So once you’ve seen the symptoms and figured out the culprit is stress, remind your kids to breathe in – tummy out, breathe out – tummy in. It’s a mantra and a practice that will keep the stress at bay and allow you and your children the opportunity to combat the source of stress before it can become overwhelming. Allow The Dolly Lammy to Help.

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  1. How come kids experience stress?

  2. Mood is very common to baby.

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