Source: UCLA Health

Stress is the way our bodies and minds react to a particular challenge or situation. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress, you can help your child learn to manage his or her responses in a healthier way.

Plenty of scenarios can cause stress – good or bad – in a child’s life. A student may feel anxious about giving a class presentation, but that “good” stress can be used to inspire him or her to focus and prepare for the challenge.

An example of “bad” stress is when a child feels so overwhelmed with a problem at home or at school that it interferes with his or her ability to function normally. In these situations, the body activates a “fight-or-flight” response, resulting in heightened focus, strength and alertness. Once the child learns how to recognize a stressful situation, he or she can begin to make good decisions when managing stress.

Parents can help their children learn to be more resilient and to manage the stress that accompanies new challenges by allowing them to feel safe to express their emotions, work on problem-solving skills and practice relaxation techniques. Proper rest, good nutrition and maintenance of daily routines can help boost coping skills. Dr. Sheena Kamra also said that “encouraging your child to be physically active through sports or activities can help reduce stress as well.”

Signs of stress may include:

• Irritability and moodiness
• Anxiety and panic attacks
• Muscle tension
• Rapid heartbeat and breathing
• Difficulty separating from caregivers
• Frequent headaches and stomach pains
• Sadness and withdrawal
• Sleep problems
• School problems
• Changes in eating patterns

When to seek help?
“It is important to seek help any time that stress is interfering with a child’s normal activities such as avoidance of activities, difficulties sleeping or poor school performance” according to Dr. Sheena Kamra.

UCLA Torrance - Pediatrics
23550 Hawthorne Blvd
Suite 180 Torrance, California 90505
Phone 310-373-4303
Uclahealth.org/southbay

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