These days, children have to deal with significant demands on their time. Whereas previous generations only had to be concerned about maintaining their grades, social life and extracurricular responsibilities, the rise of the Internet upset that paradigm. The prevalence of various social media platforms and peer pressure to use them means that children can now connect to an endless stream of updates and notifications made by their friends and acquaintances. And while new technology allows kids to access information and remain connected to friends and family wherever they are in the world, studies have shown that keeping up with all that information puts undue psychological strain on children. Here are a few signs that your child may be under too much stress.
You Never See Your Child Relaxing
Relaxation is essential to the psychological and physical health of both adults and children. If you don’t spend some portion of your day relaxing, your body will not be able to produce significant quantities of the hormones which allow your body to effectively manage stress. When that happens, your body will be manifesting this imbalance in the form of weight gain and lack of energy. If you can’t remember the last time you saw your child listening to one of their favorite albums or just playing in the backyard, you may need to include more relaxation time in their schedule.
Your Child is Irritable
While preadolescents and teenagers often demonstrate prickly and melodramatic behavior as a result of the biological changes their bodies are going through, a consistently irritable or aggressive attitude may be a sign that your child is struggling with stress. If your child’s persistent moodiness seems to have no external cause, it may be a result of sleep deprivation. Without 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, your child will be more vulnerable to the effects of stress and will have a tendency to react to objectively minor incidents, such as one of their least favorite dishes being prepared for dinner with uncharacteristic aggression.
Your Child Becomes Overly Anxious
Whereas some children manifest the effects of stress through aggression, others become anxiety ridden. Over time, persistent untreated stress can ratchet up your child’s anxiety level to the point where the prospect of taking a test or giving a speech in class is absolutely terrifying. As with grumpiness, it’s expected that children will experience some day-to-day anxiousness, but if their anxiety is having a negative impact on their quality of life, you should take steps to address the situation.
Your Child Becomes Apathetic
As every parent knows, children have the tendency to bound from obsession to obsession. Whether it’s the latest boy band, Disney movie or ice cream flavor, kids fall in love with new things easily and frequently. But, children who are dealing with stress demonstrate the opposite behavior. If you’ve noticed that your child has lost interest in their favorite music, TV shows, movies or foods, there’s a good possibility that their apathy toward what used to be their favorite things might be the result of them being too stressed out.
Your Child’s Grades Start Slipping
Some signs of stress are easy to observe, but others are less readily apparent. For example, you may not learn that your child’s stress level is negatively affecting their school performance until a report card that reveals a declining grade point average is sent home. As as a lack of focus and impaired ability to memorize new information are signs of excess stress, it’s possible that your child’s falling grades of the result of increased anxiety.
Your Child Becomes Socially Isolated
Whether your child is a socially vivacious extrovert or a more guarded introvert, they’ll likely have a few close friends that you’ll see on a regular basis. If your child stops bringing the friends over or asking if they can go to a friend’s house to play, it’s possible that stress may be the culprit. The reason being, when some children become stressed out, they pull away from their pure group as a reactive coping mechanism.
Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Well
One most the most obvious signs that a child is under a great deal of stress is sleep deprivation. This can be the results of an inability to fall asleep or sleep that is frequently interrupted over the course of the night. Signs of sleeplessness or dysfunctional sleep include difficulty bedding down, difficulty waking up in the morning, falling asleep in class, clumsiness, a lack of focus and persistent drowsiness. If you believe that your child’s stress is level has reached a point where it is affecting their sleep, contact us today to set up an appointment. With his many years of treating a wide range of sleep disorders, Dr. Shulka has the expertise to prescribe a course of treatment that will help your child get the rest they need.