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Why are children and young people effected by stress?
Children and young people today are facing many pressures from many different sources.
They are experiencing stress at school (homework, fitting in, bullying, tests), stress at home (parental separation, poverty, divorce, family expectations), and worldwide media stress (things they hear and see on the news, social media and online).
Spotting the signs of stress in children and young people
Children can experience stress early on in their lives.
While young people may be able to recognise stress and ask for help, primary school-aged children may have less awareness of stressful feelings, so they may find it difficult to communicate when they are feeling stressed.
It is harder for parents or carers to notice the signs of stress in young children.
childhood stress can appear as different physical and emotional symptoms.
Some indications that your child could be feeling stressed are:
- Complaining of stomach-aches or headaches
- Mood swings or outbursts
- Changes in their sleep pattern, or bedwetting
- Trouble concentrating and school refusal
- Have become withdrawn
We asked a group of 8 and 9 year olds what is stress and it's symptoms?
The children we asked understood stress as:
- When you are being wound up
- When something doesn't go right
- If they see other people who are stressed this makes them feel stressed.
When we asked the children what does stress feel like they gave these answers:
- Not sleeping
- Don't feel like eating
- Can't focus on school work or things I like doing
- Feel sad, frustrated or angry
- Feel up and down
- Have a headache or wobbly tummy
We also asked our group of 8 and 9 year old children what helps them the most when they feel stressed. Their answers were:
- Stress balls
- Cuddly toys
- Colouring-in or drawing
- Anime websites (cartoon animated sites)
- Talking to someone
The children placed stress balls as the most helpful at making them feel better (they particularly liked the idea of making their own stress balls).
Cuddly toys or doing something creative like colouring-in was also a popular answer.
However talking to someone was the last answer they gave and said they would do.
This therefore shows how primary-school-aged children are less likely to communicate to an adult if they are feeling stressed.
"Encouraging your child or young person to talk about their feelings and worries can help you know when they feel stressed."
I think my child is stressed, what should I do?
- Listen to them about how they feel.
- Help them to break down big tasks or problems into smaller ones can help them feel less overwhelmed.
- Stress can be a sign of depression. If you suspect your child is depressed, visit our page 'Depression in children and young people
- Make a referral or get advice about wellbeing and mental health support services from the Suffolk Children & Young People's Emotional Wellbeing Hub
- Young people can contact the ChatHealth Service - for confidential health advice from a school nurse.
- Young people can get online support from Kooth - a free and friendly online emotional wellbeing service and counselling website for 11-25 year olds.
Who can I speak to for advice?
- Call the Children and Young People's Emotional Wellbeing Hub helpline - for information and advice if you are concerned about the mental health of a child or young person aged 0-25.
- Contact Suffolk Wellbeing Service
- Contact YoungMinds Parent Helpline
How can I help my child cope with exam stress?
Go to The Source website for young people in Suffolk -The Source has lots of information and support for students on how to manage exam stress.
The site has a video from Samuel Ward Academy students who talk about the best way parents and carers can help support their teenager through exam stress. Visit:
The NHS Choices website - has an advice page on how to start a conversation with your child tiled ‘Talking to children about their feelings’
MindEd-for families website - has a resourceful section for parents and carers about how to find ways to communicate on ‘to children and teenagers when they might need it, titled 'Talking to My Child’
The YoungMinds website - has parenting tips to help support young people's emotional wellbeing. Download their 'YoungMinds Parent Survival Guide'.
The Cosmic Kids website - has some fun yoga sessions and mindfulness activities for children. Visit: Cosmic Kids
The Childline website - has a really good advice section aimed at kids, titled ‘Coping with Stress’
The Source website - is a local website for young people in Suffolk that covers various emotional wellbeing topics, including stress. Visit: www.thesource.me.uk/wellbeing
Moodwise - is a website for 16-25 year olds, which helps young people find digital tools and resources to help them feel better. Visit www.moodwise.org.uk
4YP Suffolk Young People's Health Project - is a local charity that support the social, emotional and physical health and wellbeing of young people in Suffolk. aged 12-25. They provide a counselling service, advice, drop-in sessions and groups. For more details, visit www.4yp.org.uk
The Royal College of Psychiatrists website - has practical content which outlines what stress is, its causes, and our ‘Fight or Flight’ built in response on their page titled 'Feeling stressed'.
They also have an advice page for parents and carers on ’Traumatic Stress in children'. And a list of recommended mental health books for adults, children and teenagers that address a whole range of health and wellbeing issues. Visit: Royal College of Pschiatrists Website - Mental health books section
The Boy, The Mole and The horse, by Charlie Mackesy - This is a wonderfully heart-warming book which provides thoughful, positive life lessons through the animal characters. Charlie is a Suffolk based illustrator whose art is known around the world.
Suffolk Libraries - has a list of self-help books suitable for young people and parent/carers available to request. Visit: www.suffolklibraries.co.uk
Suffolk Parent Hub - has various book recommendations to help parent/carers support children with all sorts of issues. Visit: Suffolk Count Council Website - Parent Hub
For helpful Apps that can provide some in-hand support to a young person struggling with an emotional wellbeing issue, please see a list of recommended wellbeing Apps approved by young people on The Source website. Visit:The Source - 'if the App fits' page
To search for emotional wellbeing support groups in your area see our list: local support services and organisations for stress (you can filter the list for what you need).