School and university can cause extreme stress for children and adolescents.
School and university stress can be driven by many different factors, including but not limited to: pressures to do well, making friendships and fitting in, expectations from parents, teachers or coaches, difficulties in learning and understanding, deadlines, financial pressures and changes in environment.
Some stress can help with getting work done, allowing for more focus and more sustained concentration, but too much stress can overwhelm children and adolescents, often interrupting or inhibiting their studies.
Stress often has accompanying physical symptoms such as: headaches, stomach aches, butterflies or nausea and exhaustion. If your child has been complaining of any of these symptoms regularly and in relation to school or university events such as starting new classes or exams, they may be under stress.
Children and teenagers may find it difficult to recognise and convey when they are experiencing stress, but it may be demonstrated through changes in their behaviour.
Common changes can include:
- Moodiness or irritability
- Teariness or crying
- Withdrawal from long-time friendships for a new set of peers
- Withdrawal from activities that used to give them pleasure
- Expressing new hostility toward family members and teachers
- Seeming worried and anxious
- Complaining more than usual about school or college
- Displaying surprising fearful reactions
- Being clingy to parents or teachers
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Eating too much or too little
- Confiding in peers and avoiding parents
If you recognise some or all of the above, you may be a parent of a young person who is suffering with stress. If so, it is best to get help from a psychologist who is trained in how to treat stress in children and adolescents.
They can help your child to recognise their stress and arm them with effective coping strategies for future episodes.