Do You Really Know How Stressed Your Kids Are?

Are you able to tell if and when your own child is stressed? A national survey conducted by WebMD says: probably not.
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As a parent, you've most likely experienced stress more than a few times—but are you able to tell if and when your own child is stressed? A national survey conducted by WebMD says: probably not.

The survey examined the responses of 432 parents with children between 5 and 13 years old.

Parents were asked to rate their own stress level on a scale from 1 to 10, as well as their children's. Approximately 1 in 5 parents reported maximum stress (10 out of 10), and 57 percent rated their stress as 7 out of 10 or higher. However, nearly half (48 percent) predicted their children's stress as 4 or lower.

Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of children displayed negative behaviors linked to stress, including increased crying, arguing, and anxiety. Many children also suffered physical symptoms: headaches, stomach aches, nightmares, and decreased appetite.

"Younger children don't talk about being 'stressed' in those terms," said Sandra Hassink, M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "So parents might not be hearing their children articulate that they're under stress, but I wonder if some of it might be coming out in physical and behavioral issues."

The survey also found that many parents equate their children's stress to school and homework (53 percent) and friends (51 percent); however, a key contributor to childhood stress is their home environment. In other words: Family stress directly influences children's stress.

Stress levels continue to increase as kids get older, according to the survey—making it even more important for parents to recognize whether or not their kid is feeling stressed.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

The experiences children have during their first five years have a tremendous impact on the development of their brains, their health, and their future as adults.


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