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What do you look for to understand your child's stress levels?

My child might be stressed out or it could just be hormones. I am not sure what to look for or be concered about.


Lori | Expert

Lori

It seems that kids are busier now than ever before.  They have school, sports, friends, homework, after school activities, and sometimes work. We don’t always stop to think that they might be stressed out because we are so busy ourselves.  

However, there are ways to tell if your child’s stress level is too high. They may become grouchy for no particular reason, they may snap at someone in the family or one of their friends for something that in the past would not have bothered them at all. 

Their grades may go down, their grooming habits may slip or their eating patterns may change – they might eat more than normal, or they are just “not hungry” each time you ask them what they want for dinner. 

The best way to determine your child’s stress level is simple…Just ASK them how they’re doing. You’ll probably get the usual “I’m fine” answer at first, but if you really listen to HOW they say it, you may get more of an answer.  Find time to just sit and talk with them, casual chit-chat can often lead to more serious topics once they realize that we as parents are not out to catch them at something they’ve done wrong, or “chew them out” for something that has happened. 

Building trust and mutual respect will go a long way toward open lines of communication, which may help alleviate some of the stress they might be feeling. Even grade school children feel stress to do well, but sometimes the stress is about something more. Is there bullying going on? This has become a real problem and it’s something many kids are terrified to discuss even with their parents. 

You can also contact their teacher(s) or school counselor to see if anyone there has noticed anything unusual about his or her behavior. Many schools now have online grade books, check their progress and see if their grades are slipping.

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