What is childhood stress and what causes it?

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Childhood stress is a feeling of mental, emotional and physical tension that occurs in children as a natural reaction to stimuli such as unexpected changes.

Although stress is an adaptive response, excessive stress in children can trigger different psychological symptoms, health problems and affect the comprehensive development of minors.

What is childhood stress?

Childhood stress refers to the emotional and psychological discomfort that children experience in situations that generate pressure or that are frightening for them.

There are normal levels of stress in the face of new situations, such as starting school, changing schools or the birth of a sibling. However, if the stress levels are intense or are maintained over time, we may be facing a case of childhood stress.

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Symptoms of childhood stress and how to identify them

Stressful situations can trigger different reactions in children that are easily perceptible to their parents and caregivers, which is why it is essential to pay constant attention to children in order to identify changes in their behavior.

Some of the most characteristic symptoms of childhood stress are:

  • Physical health problems (stomach ache, headaches, ailments without apparent illness)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decrease in academic performance
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Enuresis (wetting the bed)
  • Nightmares
  • Concentration problems

These are the most common stress symptoms in young children.

Most common causes of childhood stress

There are various situations that can be a source of stress for children, some of the most representative are:

Divorce of his parents

The separation of parents is a situation that can generate a lot of stress in children, since it implies a radical change in the dynamics of children’s lives.


Bullying or bullying is one of the most common causes of stress, because it generates fear, anguish and a feeling of constant insecurity.

Significant changes in routine

Moving, the death of a loved one, bodily changes or the illness of a family member are events that alter the lives of children and can generate symptoms such as childhood stress.

Economic problems

The lack of economic resources influences the generation of various tensions at the family level that can generate symptoms of stress in children.

Responsibilities overload

If the child is over-demanding at school or in activities at home, they may feel stressed by responsibility or by not having leisure time.

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How to talk to children about stress and how to help them express their emotions

In childhood we do not know how to identify what we feel and this can cause confusion or frustration.

In the case of children, the best thing that can be done is to educate about emotions so that they can recognize and process them. Likewise, it is important to promote dialogue so that the minor understands that expressing what she feels will help her find appropriate solutions to what is bothering her.

Strategies to help children manage stress at school

Some of the strategies that can be used at school to avoid childhood stress are:

Avoid school overload

Teachers need to be realistic about the school load, so that children do not feel overloaded with obligations.

Promote expression

It is important that children’s expression be stimulated at school, so that they can feel welcomed by the group, as well as learn to relate respectfully with their peers.

Recognize the characteristics of the child

It is essential that both at school and at home, teachers and family members can recognize the characteristics related to the child’s personality, in order not to unnecessarily expose him to stressful experiences or events.

How to foster a home environment that helps children manage stress

The house is the first space for children to socialize and where they learn to relate to their emotions. With this in mind, these are some practices that you can implement at home:

  • establish routines
  • talk about emotions
  • Teaching children to recognize their own stress
  • promote dialogue
  • Share relaxation techniques and emotional management.

The importance of physical activity and exercise in managing stress in children

An excellent way to combat stress in the case of children is to promote physical activity and time outdoors, taking into account that children have a lot of energy that must be invested properly.  

Exercise, a good diet and contact with the sun promote new experiences, strengthen health and release tension.

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How to teach children relaxation and meditation techniques to combat stress

Children are always open to knowledge, which is why you can transmit relaxation and meditation techniques to combat stress. 

In case of child stress you can: 

  • Do breathing exercises in the company of children.
  • Do not invalidate your feelings and emotions, and promote new ways to express them properly . A good example of this would be: In cases where the child constantly cries to ask for something, teach him to calm down through speech and remind him that he can ask for what he needs through words. 
  • You can help yourself with children’s stories or educational videos on the subject. 
  • Seek the help of tools like the Psiconnea App, where you can learn strategies to better manage your emotions and help children to do it properly too. 

The role of parents in managing children’s stress and how to avoid transmitting our own stress to them

Taking into account that children have not developed the management of their emotions , it is essential that parents provide them with emotional education so that they can recognize, understand and properly process their emotions. 

It is super important that parents also learn to manage their own emotions, in order not to transmit their own stress to their children . If the adult shows irritable behavior in front of the child, gets constantly angry or stressed in front of everything, the child will learn that this is the way to manage what she feels and will emulate the behavior.

When to seek professional help to deal with stress in children

Children can feel stressed in specific situations, this is normal and can be processed from home. However, if the child begins to have a state of constant stress and have symptoms such as decreased appetite or irritable behavior, it is best to seek professional help , so that the psychologist can help you understand the root of your stress, which in many cases can be manifested by things that he does not know how to express. 

Conclusion: the importance of helping children manage stress from an early age

Teaching children to manage stress from an early age will help them have better mental health, tolerate frustration and cope better with the different challenges they experience throughout their lives . 

If you don’t know how to help your children manage stress, in the Psiconnea App you can evaluate their mental and emotional state, as well as learn new strategies that will allow you to take care of the emotional health of children in a more effective way.