Work is often cited as the primary cause of stress. Indeed, work-related stress is a global issue. According to the Global Organization for Stress, workers in countries as different as the United States, Australia and China all report confronting considerable work-related stress. But framing stress as an issue primarily affecting workers overlooks how it affects kids.
The Global Organization for Stress reports that stress is the number one health concern for high school students. Kids dealing with stress experience many of the same symptoms as adults, which the Mayo Clinic reports include headaches, chest pain, anxiety, and mood swings, among others. But stress triggers differ for kids and adults, and parents concerned about stress affecting their children can learn about potential stressors so they can be better prepared to help children get through stressful experiences.
The Boys and Girls Club of America notes that stressors change as children grow up. Parents can keep that in mind but also recognize that certain events can contribute to stress regardless of how old a child is.
The BGCA notes that kids of all ages may be stressed by incidents or experiences that can affect kids whether they’re in elementary school or approaching high school graduation. Such stressors include:
Conflicts with friends
Academic struggles, including poor performance and difficulties with the curriculum
Parents’ divorce or separation
Family financial struggles
Unsafe or precarious living situation
Stressors for children
New experiences are among the stressors that affect children. Such experiences can include being away from home and performing in front of others, whether it’s in a sport, school play or other public forum. Children also may feel stress if or when they are picked last for a sports team. Perceived dangers, even when there’s no imminent threat, also can be stressors for young children. Such dangers may include kidnapping, fires and natural disasters, among others.
Stress for preteens and teens
The bodily changes associated with puberty are among the potential stressors for kids in this age group. The changes children undergo at this stage in life also can lead to issues with self-esteem and other negative thoughts, and that can be a stressor for some kids. The specter of college and the uncertainty that life after high school can spark are another potential stressor for kids in this age group. Older kids who begin dating also may find that this causes stress.
Stress is often caused by work, but adults are not the only ones vulnerable to stress. Various life events can trigger stress in kids. Parents can do their best to recognize potential stressors and help kids manage stress in a healthy, safe way.