Signs of Stress in Kids and Why Adults Often Miss Them
Why We Adults So Often Miss Our Kids’ Distress Signals
If we’re all so concerned about childhood stress, so well-intentioned, how do we
miss the signals? It’s easy to do.
A number of factors conspire to blind us to our
own child’s stress.
For one, parents, educators, and politicians have gotten sidelined by debates
about how many hours a week our kids should be allowed to watch TV, whether
we should install metal detectors in schools, whether to allow random urine tests
ur concern as parents tends to center on the specific questions that
come up every day—Should I take my 7-year old daughter to the Brittney Spears’
concert she’s dying to go to?
How much TV should I let my kids watch?
of narrow focus prevents us from seeiing the forest for the trees.
We miss the
big picture of our own child’s stressed life.
Most of us adults are overwhelmed and overloaded.
Being “stressed out” has
become a way of life.
We may be too busy to notice our kids are having trouble
Or we may assume and hope that their behaviors – the nail biting, door
slamming, arguing, and weeping -- fall within the range of normal. Or our kids
may keep their feelings bottled up, because they don’t know how to express
them or feel it’s “uncool” not to be able to “deal” or don’t want to worry us.
We aren’t privy to our children’s feelings, unless they verbalize them.
don’t, we can only make deductions from their behavior.
And sometimes we
interpret bad behavior at face value, without questioning the events that
precipitated the screamed insults or slammed door.
Given that we adults are
only human, with feelings and flaws of our own, playing dispassionate detective
Plus, because most children are usually healthy and robust, stress-related
illnesses may come and go quickly.
And children are works in progress.
change, develop, evolve.
We parents often feel that just when we think we have
a handle on our children’s likes, dislikes, and habits, they change.
hard to separate the flotsam and jetsam of stress symptoms from the
Even health professionals frequently miss the signs.
The process that provoked
the signs and symptoms is well hidden.
Young (and even older patients) often
don’t know what significance to attach to their symptoms.
Unless a doctor
suspects stress-related illness and questions the child about school, friends, diet,
home life, the underlying factors may not come to light.
primary care doctors are focused on physical illnesses.
Parents often have