We all have stress in our lives and children, even young infants, are no different. Some stress can be positive and helps motivate us to complete tasks and to do well. For children with chronic complex conditions (and their siblings, parents and other family members), too much stress can be a real problem. We know your lives are extra busy, with many demands and pressures.

Sometimes it is hard to recognize the signs of stress, especially when your child has other health care issues. Below are some of the more common signs and symptoms of stress in different age groups.

If you believe that your child or another family member is having significant stress, please contact your health care team. There are many ways that we can help reduce stress; a personalized approach is best.


Common signs and symptoms of stress

Excessive crying, fussy eating, poor sleep, crankiness, difficult to soothe, wanting to be held by the parent all of the time.

As above and also: temper tantrums, changes in sleep and eating patterns, regression to more infantile behaviours like thumbsucking or wanting a pacifier frequently, withdrawn, wanting to be with a parent all the time, not wanting to sleep alone, having aggressive behaviours (biting, hitting, throwing).

As above and also: refusal to cooperate with care, may verbalize some of the feelings, bedwetting, nightmares, stomachaches.

School-aged children
As above and also: refusal to accept or participate in care, be distrustful, complain of headaches or stomachaches, school refusal, unwilling to participate in usual activities, vocalizing worry and anxiety, acting withdrawn, feeling unloved, worrying about the future, may have habits like hair twirling, nail biting.

As above and also: show anger, oppositional behaviours, panic attacks, low sense of self esteem, feeling disillusioned, feeling sad, mood swings, acting irritable.