The impact of stress on children
Children may not have all the responsibilities of adults, but they can still experience stress. According to the Nemours Foundation, sources of childhood stress include:
- being involved in too many activities
- having too little play or relaxation time
- having parents who frequently fight and don’t get along
- having an ill or dying relative
- experiencing divorce or other family changes
- seeing disturbing images on TV of war, terrorism, or natural disasters that create fears about their own safety or the safety of those they love
- losing a loved one
Exposure to adverse childhood events is associated with an increased risk of premature death during adulthood, according to a study published in American Journal of Preventative Medicine (2009; 37 , 389-96). Adverse childhood events included being emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abused, witnessing domestic violence, experiencing parental separation or divorce, and growing up in a household where members were mentally ill, were substance abusers, or were sent to prison. Data showed that people with six or more adverse childhood events died 20 years earlier than people who did not have these adverse events.
For more information on childhood health issues and tips on how to help children cope with stress, go to www.nemours.org
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