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What are the signs of stress in young children?

Often children do not know they have stress and cannot verbally express their feelings. Look for these signs that may indicate stress in your child:

  • Suddenly acts differently
  • Often sick (with headaches or stomachaches)
  • Has nervous habits such as biting nails
  • Eats too much or won’t eat enough
  • Hurts other people or breaks things
  • Doesn’t want to talk or be around others
  • Cries easily

What causes stress in young children?

  • Big changes (new baby, new home, divorce)
  • Growth spurts
  • New stage of development (asserting independence in toddlerhood)
  • Being tired, hungry, or sick
  • Too much or too little structure in their lives
  • When adults around them feel stress

To help your child cope with change:

  • Talk with your child about change.
  • Explain that fear, anger, or worry is normal.
  • Keep consistency in other areas such as favorite blanket or bedtime story.
  • Ensure he/she gets plenty of rest and exercise.
  • Ensure a balanced free and structured time.
  • Have rules and routines that are always the same.
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