7 common triggers and how to help
Most adults think of their childhood as the happiest time of their life. But we forget too quickly that being a child – even as young as 1 – can be stressful.
Stress, of course, can have a direct effect on mood, which may explain why many experts believe it can lead to depression. So, is it any surprise that studies show almost 1 in 4 young people will experience depression before they’re 19 years old?
From peer pressure to academic expectations, there are many aspects of modern life that can lead a child or teenager to feel stressed, anxious and worried. The wellbeing experts at CABA reveal some of the common triggers and offer their tips on how to support a child who is experiencing stress.
- School and homeworkMany children feel under pressure to do well at school. And for some, all the lessons they have to learn during the day – plus the homework they have to do in the evening – can seem overwhelming and if a child falls behind, this can lead to stress. It can often mean they don’t have enough free time to play or do other fun activities.
- ExamsExams can put children and teenagers under pressure, so much so that a recent report by Childline revealed the service delivered more than 3,000 counselling sessions on exam stress during 2016 – 2017, which is 11% higher than the previous 2 years.Those aged 12 – 15 were most likely to be asking for help about exam stress, with the top concerns centring around not wanting to disappoint their parents, fear of failure and general pressures linked to academic achievement. As a result, young people contacting Childline said exam stress can not only lead to depression but also anxiety, panic attacks and feelings of low self-esteem.
- Making friends & peer pressureWhen children start a new school, making friends can put them under pressure. Those who don’t make friends easily may also feel isolated. Children can also worry when they argue and fall out with their friends. Additionally, making friends can be difficult and as such, many children feel under pressure to fit in – and sometimes, this means they do things they may not feel comfortable with or are unsure of.
- BullyingDuring 2016/2017 there were more than 24,000 Childline counselling sessions with children about bullying. And according to the NSPCC, studies suggest there are more than 16,000 young people are absent from school due to bullying.As a parent, there are certain things you can look out for that may suggest your child is having a problem with bullying. These include:
- Becoming withdrawn, nervous and losing confidence
- Performing badly at school
- Not wanting to go to school (for instance, pretending to be ill)
- Losing personal belongings (or personal belongings becoming damaged)
- Not eating or sleeping well
- Having unexplained injuries such as bruises5. World events
It’s impossible to keep disturbing news about things like war, natural disasters and terrorist atrocities from children these days. As a result, some children may worry about their safety as well as that of their parents, family members and friends.
6. Family difficulties or changes
From moving to a new house to parents separating, family difficulties and changes to the norm can be tough on a child or teenager and can cause signs of stress.
How you can help…
If you suspect your child is under a lot of stress, here are some of the things you can do to help:
Make time for them
All parents are busy these days, but it’s important to spend more time than usual with your children if you think they’re worried about something. Make yourself available for fun activities or just being in the same room as them. Ask them about their day and show an interest in things that are important to them. But try to avoid forcing them to talk about their worries – they’ll open up when they feel comfortable talking about it.
Encourage healthy sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep and rest can help children become more resilient to stress. Children need different amounts of sleep at different ages – find out how many hours your children need by visiting NHS Choices.