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Top 10 School Stress Symptoms Parents Can Watch For

By Editorial Staff

Americans experience a high level of stress-related illnesses.

For children, this is even more likely considering they are in a vulnerable period of changing hormonal levels and underdeveloped coping skills.

Today there is increasingly more academic pressure placed on children to perform and excel at school, in extracurriculars, at home, and socially. That’s a high expectation to live up to. No wonder burnout is a growing epidemic. The good news is that as a nation we are more aware that high levels of prolonged stress could lead to physical, mental, and emotional repercussions. Thus, there are plenty of resources out there to address any concerns you may have.

If your child’s stress symptoms appear to be interfering with their everyday lives, take action and seek professional help. This includes affecting their academic performance, social lives, and family responsibilities.

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Persistent symptoms, or those that last longer than two weeks, maybe a sign of a more serious underlying cause. Think anxiety or depression. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or primary physician, if you think this might be the case. A doctor can refer you to a counselor. Don’t worry, there are options and resources available to help you be there for your child.

It’s crucial to be proactive in monitoring how your child is doing. Here are ten school-related stress symptoms parents can watch for.

10. Constant worrying

school stress
Stressed-out teens carry a general sense of worry about anything and everything. This might look like worrying about all of the bad things that haven’t happened yet, but could. Teens might also worry about how others perceive them, so much so that they develop social anxiety. If your teen seems more worried about hypotheticals, it could be due to school stress.

9. Negative self-talk

school stress
Teens are going through a rough age with lots of change and little control over it all. It’s common for teens to use negative talk, such as “nothing ever goes my way” or the classic, “you’ve ruined my life.” Stressed teens, however, may say these types of phrases more often, and even delve into degrading their own personalities, bodies, or grades. It’s important to nip these self-defeating thoughts in the bud. If you’re hearing these phrases often, it might be a sign of stress.

8. Headaches, body aches, and stomachaches

Stress often becomes physical very quickly. Common symptoms of stress include complaints of frequent headaches or migraines, as well as general body soreness, tiredness, and upset stomachs. Physical abnormalities might be a sign of stress.

7. Frequently Ill

school stress
If your teen is stressed out, they are more likely to have a compromised immune system leading to colds and other illnesses. Missing school often due to an unexplainable illness might be a sign of something underlying.

6. Trouble sleeping

Trouble falling asleep or restlessness at night can be a sign of stress. Overly tired teens might want and need a good night of rest, but find that their minds wander over the next day’s anticipated stress. This vicious cycle could be one explanation for other illnesses, as the body is physically unable to handle stress.

On the other end of the spectrum, some teens sleep too much when stressed. A teen who is oversleeping in the morning or returns from school and sleeps before and after dinner might be using an unhealthy coping mechanism: avoidance.

5. Difficulty concentrating

school stress
With a lot on their mind, stressed teens have difficulty focusing on their day-to-day responsibilities. Are their household responsibilities, such as chores, going undone? Do they have trouble finishing their homework in a timely manner? Stress might be the culprit.

4. Declining grades

There are several potential reasons for declining grades, but school-related stress is one. If your A-student has begun to receive C’s and D’s, stress might be causing them to underperform. Consider scheduling a conversation with their teachers to get to the root of the problem.

3. Negative changes in behavior

Behavior issues are often the result of a teen who is dealing with something on their own. If you see an increase in problems, such as talking back, picking up bad habits like smoking, skipping school, or stealing, it might be stress or something worse. Stress-related bad behavior is no excuse, however. Consider professional help in confronting a teen who is acting out.

2. Increased irritability

Teens are moody by nature–it’s a trope that is deeply ingrained in society. However, stressed-out teens aren’t just dealing with fluctuating hormones and social awkwardness. A teen who is noticeably irritable or has mood swings over small inconveniences may be feeling stressed out and overwhelmed.

1. Isolation from friends and family

Stress can change a teen’s usual social habits. Social isolation from family and friends could be an attempt to distance from people that may otherwise notice and ask questions about your teen’s behavior. Spending more time alone in their room or a lack of interest in previous hobbies and social outings might be a sign of stress.

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