How Can I Tell If My School-Age Child Is Stressed?

Michelle Bailey, M.D, Duke

Question: How can I tell if my school-age child is stressed?

Answer:Parents may be able to tell if their school-age child is stressed by observing typical behaviors that they have that may change. For example, your child may have disturbances in their sleep patterns -- either sleeping excessively, or waking up in the middle of the night when they had not done that before. Bad dreams can also be a sign that kids are worried or concerned about something during the day.

Other examples include changes in their eating habits; a child who's refusing meals or snacks, who's typically a very good eater, or a child who doesn't want their favorite foods may signal that there's a problem.

I would encourage parents to talk to their children and ask them specifically: "Is there anything you're worried about? Do you have anything on your mind?" Those are helpful questions to launch a discussion that your child may not otherwise initiate on their own.

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