Spend time working on your tasks and goals (such as homework, household chores, or practice). Ask for help when you need it. Use the positive energy of stress. Resolve issues as they arise.
The pandemic raised stress to historic levels. These are healthy ways for children and teens to cope. In the short term, stress can push a child to practice for their piano recital or inspire a teenager to study when they prefer to go out with friends. But chronic stress, for example, caused by incessant pressures related to the pandemic, social unrest or violence, is different.
Left uncontrolled, prolonged stress can contribute to a long list of physical and mental health problems. Long-term stress can cause high blood pressure, weaken the immune system, and contribute to diseases such as obesity and heart disease. It can also cause mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders and depression, which are increasingly common among young people. At the extreme end of the stress scale, nearly 270,000 children suffered a tragic loss, and COVID-19 claimed the lives of one or more of their caregivers.
Stress in young people doesn't always resemble stress in adults. However, like adults, children and teens, even those with life-changing losses can find healthy ways to cope. Together, young people and their parents or caregivers can learn to spot the signs of excess stress and, with the right tools, to manage it. For young children, tension at home is a common source of stress.
Children may have problems because of family discord, divorce, or loss, for example. Even happy changes, such as a new home, the arrival of a new sibling, or a beloved new stepparent, can be difficult for a child. School is another frequent source of concern for children. Young children may be stressed about making friends, dealing with bullies, or getting along well with their teachers.
They may also be anxious about exams and grades. As children grow older, their sources of stress expand. Teens are more likely than young children to be stressed by events or situations outside the home. Partners can help cushion stress, but they can also be a source of stress.
Social relationships are especially important in adolescence. Many teens are concerned about fitting in, their first romantic relationships and the peer pressure surrounding substance use and sex. Psychologists are experts at helping people manage stress and establish positive mental health habits. Visit APA (Society for Clinical Psychology of Children and Adolescents) Division 53 for advice on choosing a psychologist and information on evidence-based treatments.