Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
The following signs and symptoms may indicate that your child or adolescent is experiencing to much stress for him or her to handle.  Look over the list and see how many you can identify.  Not every sign of stress is as important as the next one.  Whining in children can be irritating but can usually be corrected with a behavioral program in a short period of time.  Adolescents who start to give their things away may be a signal of suicidal thoughts and will require a much more detailed intervention then whining.  You will have to use your judgment when looking at the signs related to your child.  If you are concerned, seek out a counselor to talk to about the signs of stress your child is showing.  If the signs seem severe, ask your child about them and don't hesitate to set up a meeting for your child or adolescent with a trained counselor.

Irritable                                                                 Whines
Exaggerates - tells fantastic stories                         Daydreams a lot of the time
Becomes dependent - clings to parent                     Disobedient
Mood swings - happy one minute, sad the next        Threatens to run away or actually does
Withdraws - avoids old friends                                 Appears sad much of the time
Refuses to eat                                                       Won't go to school
Aches and pains for no reason                                Loses interest in things used to like
Cruel to others or animals                                       Uncooperative
Pulls own hair out                                                  Stares into space for long periods of time
Destructive                                                            Gives personal things away
Wets the bed                                                        Can't concentrate
Can't sit still                                                          Gets into many fights
Lies                                                                     Yells or is generally very loud
Nail biting                                                             Curses
Steals                                                                  Sets fires or loves to watch things burn
Suicidal thoughts                                                  Truancy
Thumb sucking                                                     Temper tantrums
Cries easily and often                                            Performs compulsive behaviors
Often angry for no good reason                               Depressed
Eats too much                                                      Fearful
Insomnia                                                              Nausea
Nightmares                                                           Has new, strange behaviors
Talks to self                                                          Shy
Wants to sleep all the time                                    Has recently become self-conscious

These signs and symptoms do not cover every stress sign possible.  In addition, you will have to look to see if some of the signs are appropriate at certain ages.  One thing to be sure to watch for is when a sign suddenly appears.  A happy child who suddenly becomes sad is telling you something is not right.  Sudden changes should always be suspect.  People who are depressed and suicidal will, sometimes, become very happy just before attempting suicide.
Give your child a break.  If you see something that worries you, talk to someone.  Some problems can be solved easily while others will take time.  The end result, however, will be a happier child or adolescent.  This will make your job as a parent easier.  It's a win - win situation.
Copyright 1999 - 2008  Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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