Advertisement
question

How can stress be harmful for children?

Dr. Tanya R. Altmann, MD
Dr. Tanya R. Altmann, MD
Pediatrics
answer

Adults often talk about feeling “stressed out.” But children can get stressed out too, and may show it differently than adults. Different children handle stress in different ways. Stress that is very intense or long lasting can affect a child’s health and even make them sick. Sudden stressful events may speed up your child’s heart rate and breathing, increase blood pressure, cause muscle tension, stomachaches and headaches. Stress can also interfere with sleep, behavior and school performance. If you suspect your child is stressed, talk with your pediatrician or another specialist such as a child therapist. 
Try to keep your child away from unnecessary stressors such as violence in media, whether news or fictional. Don’t forget that your children are always listening to you and watching what you do, and they may pick up on your own stress from work or family.
It’s important to remember that children often handle stress better when they have the love and support of family and friends.
RealAge
RealAge
answer

The lower your child’s stress levels, the healthier your child will be - physically and emotionally. Stress not only can cause psychological difficulties for your child, but it may also manifest itself in a physical way. Some physical symptoms of stress may include headaches, stomach aches, difficulty breathing, and a lowered immune system.

Children deal with stress in different ways, depending on their age and developmental level as well as physical or emotional states of mind. For example, a child who is tired may react to stress in a different manner from a rested one. Notice how your child defends himself or herself from the negative effects of stress. Does he or she manage stress in a healthy way? Or does stress seem to paralyze your child, interfering with how he or she goes about daily activities? Is your child complaining of stomach aches or coming home from school in tears?

Some children are just more sensitive to stress than others. While one child may shrug off a bad day at school, another may spend hours worrying and lose sleep over the thought of going to school the following day. The way your child handles stressful situations may be just a part of his or her make-up, possibly inherited from family traits.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

More About this Book

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...

Continue Learning about Stress

Intense Stress May Raise Risk for Autoimmune Disease
Intense Stress May Raise Risk for Autoimmune Disease
People who have stress-related disorders tied to traumatic life events have an increased risk for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, accor...
Read More
Feeling Stressed? Try Harnessing the Soothing Power of Music
Feeling Stressed? Try Harnessing the Soothing Power of Music
If you sometimes feel like your body is tied in knots or your mind just won't let your worries rest, you’re not alone. In 2021, almost 12 percent of U...
Read More
Easy (and Cheap) Stress-Relief Tips
Easy (and Cheap) Stress-Relief Tips
If you’re looking for easy ways to de-stress, a hug (or two) might just do the trick. Like a Snuggie for your insides, hugs are linked to warm, fuzzy...
Read More
What are common reactions to stressful events?
What are common reactions to stressful events? Common reactions to a stressful event include disbeli...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.