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Kids Are Stressed More Than We Think


Americans young and old appear resigned to the stress in their lives. It is reported that 75% of adults feel moderate to high stress and because of this kids feel the stress as well. In fact, the American Psychological Association's annual Stress in America survey not only asked 1,568 adults 18 and older about their stress, but for the first time, 1,206 young people ages 8 to 17 were asked about theirs.

"Children absolutely sense parents' stress," says pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg, associate professor at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
People are "probably adjusting" to the higher stress they have faced since the recession, so fewer are reporting increasing stress, says psychologist Katherine Nordal of the psychological association. "I don't think people have the incredible anxiety about the economy the same way they did last year."

Our children show signs of this stress and high stress takes its toll. Children suffering from stress are twice as likely as those with low stress to smoke, drink, get drunk, and use illegal drugs, according to a Columbia University survey. High stress was experienced more among girls than boys, with nearly one in three girls saying they were highly stressed compared with fewer than one in four boys.

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"Parents do want to perceive things as being OK with kids," says Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at New York's Maimonides Medical Center. "Parents are feeling they're shielding them from this stress, but kids are struggling more than parents are willing to acknowledge."

The 1,568 adult respondents include 235 who have children 8 to 17, but they are not the parents of the young respondents. Giovinazzo-Barnickel says stress today is "almost like a fact of life. People are just juggling more things than they were 10, 15 or 20 years ago."

Child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan, a clinical professor at George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C, says parents need to discuss stress with children. "There is no sense in shielding them from something they already kind of know, like what they may see or hear in the news," he says.

There are many things parents can do to help their children cope with stress. One of the most important things they can do is just allow them to talk about it and see where they are at with that. Then parents can make informed decisions as to how to help their children.

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth