Sress is defined as a function of the demands placed on us and our ability to meet them.

It is commonplace to consider adults as being stressed, but the reality is that children and youth face stress as well. A variety of things can cause children and youth to experience stress in their lives. Unlike adults, youth are limited in their ability to critically think and problem solve based on their age and development of their brain. Youth development experts know that brains do not fully develop until at least age 20 or 21, sometimes later. Different factors cause stress to adults than to children and youth. Thus, adults may be stressing out their children without realizing it.

What causes stress?

There are many things that can cause children and youth stress, such as divorce, moving, changing schools, hearing adults discuss stress in their lives, natural disasters and more. These things seem natural causes of stress for children, however, studies show that a variety of factors have changed the way adults parent their children. It is odd to think that adults are actually the ones stressing out youth, however, consider a few factors:

1. Adolescence can sometimes be nicknamed as the “storm and stress” phase of growing up. While everyone goes through it, it cannot be ignored by adults because everyone will experience it differently. The most natural cause of stress for youth, the physical and emotional changes that occur during this stage of development can cause stress.

2. Social media allows for adults to be over-connected to their peers. This level of connectivity allows parents to always see what their peers’ children are achieving. Thurs, making adults more apt to make sure their child is also performing as well – in the classroom, on the court/field or any other activities they participate in.

3. Youth need to experience failure safe way. Adults need to help youth face failure, learn from it and be better equipped in the future. The same adult who is pressuring their child to perform at certain levels may be prohibiting failure in a safe environment to happen.

Stay tuned for more information on what adults can do when their child is facing stress in their lives. For information on other youth related topics, contact Jill A. Goedeken at the Nebraska Extension – Platte County office at 402-563-4901 or platte.unl.edu.

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part series on this topic.

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