Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

You often hear adults saying they are stressed. We hear about it all of the time and today is no different. Children are different. You rarely hear a child say that they are so stressed out, especially not small kids. This doesn’t mean that they don’t feel stress, it just means they don’t know how to recognize or explain exactly what they are feeling to someone else.

Since kids don’t express how they feel, their feelings begin to be expressed in physical ways. Here is a list of common physical complaints that kids may have when they are experiencing stress. Of course, not all of these symptoms are a sign of stress but if your child is repeatedly complaining of these symptoms, please see your doctor.

-Stomach aches



-Anxiety (a symptom of stress)

-Loss of Appetite or excessive eating

-Difficulty falling or staying asleep


So, what can we do about it. Well the best place to start is with the foundation of optimal health: Good nutrition, sleep and exercise. Also, as a parent spend more time listening than asking questions or offering advice. If your child isn’t feeling well or seems sad, just sit next to them or lay with them a little while longer at bedtime. Sometimes you may be surprised at what they tell you. The truth is when someone listens to them and validates their feelings, this is enough to help.

If your child is exhibiting these symptoms and finds it difficult to focus on things like school, work, etc, then please see your doctor to discuss your concerns.

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Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

Pediatrician and Mom