Children & Teenagers

Remember your teen years…? Some view them as the best time of their life. For others it was the most stressful time of their life. The Centers for Disease Control suggests that 70% of today’s teens feel overworked, overscheduled and overstressed.

In fact, today’s teens are under a tremendous amount of stress, with one-third of teens suffering at least one major stressor each week. A 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics report says that “colleges are seeing a generation of students who appear to be manifesting increased signs of depression, anxiety and stress.”

All children will experience stress, sometimes significant amounts of it, in their lives. Statistics indicate adults ordinarily fail to recognize the incidence and magnitude of stress in the lives of children. For example, studies have shown that “parents perceive children as having lower levels of stress than children perceive themselves as having.” (Humphrey, Helping Children Manage Stress, 1998, p.8) This is confirmed by a nation-wide survey that concludes “parents underestimate how much children worry.” (Witkin, KidStress, 1999, p.11).

The continual rise in statistics on teen stress, suicide, bullying and violence are all indicators that many of today’s youths have a “stress response system,” that is not functioning properly, and are therefore unable to self-regulate themselves. Current statistics indicate:

  • 70% of teens are feeling stressed, overworked and overscheduled (Centers for Disease Control)
  • 20% of teenagers experience depression (Teen Depression Statistics, at
  • Depression is one of the most common reasons why teenagers attempt suicide.
  • Suicide rates among adolescents have grown more than 50% in the past 30 years. (Bullying Statistics 2010,
  • 3rd leading cause of death in teens is major depressive disorder. (World Health Organization)
  • 30% of teens in the U.S. have been involved in bullying. (Statistics from Family First Aid and Teenage Bullying Statistics)
  • 71% of students report bullying as an on-going problem. (
  • By high school, as many as 40-60% of students become chronically disengaged from school. (Klem & Connell, 2004 *from the Hawn Foundation under Monographs…one of the PDF’s on Meta analysis)
  • 30% of high school students engage in multiple high-risk behaviors that interfere with school performance. (Dryfoos 1997; Eaton et al., 2008. *from the Hawn Foundation article above)
  • More and more teens are “acting in” (on oneself) in the form of anxiety, depression and illness, and/or “acting out” (on others) as hyperactivity, violence and bullying. (Maggie Kline, MS, MFT, “Trauma Through A Child’s Eyes,” Introduction XIX)

When a teen cannot self-regulate, it means they are unable to regulate thoughts, feelings, behaviors and emotions and respond appropriately to the environment. When teens cannot self-regulate, they may turn to drugs, alcohol and medications to manage uncomfortable emotions, thoughts and feelings. Or, they might isolate themselves, lose their ability to concentrate and learn, sexually act out, self-mutilate, bully others, or engage in dangerous activities or sports.

The Connection Between Stress and Teen Statistics

What you probably know is that teens are stressed. What you may not know, is that stress is related to:

  • Anger/Rage/Violence
  • Bullying
  • Depression
  • Suicide
  • Diminished ability to concentrate and learn
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Panic
  • Hypervigilance
  • Depression
  • Social anxiety
  • Racing thoughts
  • Inability to sleep
  • Attention deficit
  • Disconnectedness
  • Deadness
  • Exhaustion
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low motivation & energy
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Medical conditions
  • And more…

The largest sources of stress can be divided into the following categories:

  • School
  • Romantic Relationships
  • Siblings
  • Parents
  • Friends

Examples of stressors for teens include:

  • Being bullied
  • Exposure to violence or abuse
  • Social Media (always “on,” new age peer pressure, cyber-addiction)
  • Pressure to get high grades and take AP/Honors classes
  • Peer-pressure and competition (in sports and in the classroom)
  • Parents’ divorce and/or ongoing family discord
  • Not meeting the expectations of peers, teachers and/or parents
  • Getting into a “good” college or university/li>
  • Taking a test
  • Being successful in extracurricular activities and sports
  • Going on a first date
  • High expectations placed upon them by parents and teachers
  • Having a job
  • Not fitting in socially
  • Being ahead or behind in physical development
  • Family stress
  • Death of a relative

Stress is often thought of as something only experienced by adults. But today, pressure to perform well at school and sports, relationships, busy schedules and self-esteem issues can result in stress overload for your child. And, if they remain under stress for long periods of time, it’s possible their stress-control mechanism can get thrown off, resulting in your child becoming less and less able to adapt to the day-to-day stress in their life, including the pressures of school and test-taking.

Students who are graduating high school and exploring options for colleges are experiencing stress related to financial worries, academic performance (the need to take advanced placement classes and earn the highest grades), moving away from home and friends, being accepted by other college students and living on their own.

How do you know if your child could benefit from Somatic Experiencing®?

Parents usually know their children well enough to recognize when an indication is outside the child’s normal range of behavior. Parents may notice:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Drop in school performance
  • Inability to study
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Withdrawal
  • Fearfulness
  • Anger, irritability and moodiness
  • Excessive shyness
  • Clinging
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Aggression toward other children
  • Acting out
  • Nervousness or jitters
  • Mind chatter
  • Lack of energy
  • Easily overwhelmed
  • Boredom
  • Nightmares, difficulty sleeping or falling asleep
  • Headaches
  • Easily startled
  • Feeling Powerlessness
  • Physical illness, such as stomach aches, acne, headaches, chronic fatigue, rashes
  • Diarrhea or constipation

Signs of stress and trauma may be very subtle:

  • Bottling it up ~ holding it in
  • Lack of emotions
  • Excessive quietness
  • Changes in behavior
  • Crying spells
  • Excessive laziness
  • Appetite change
  • Fingernail biting or hair pulling
  • Accident prone
  • Stuttering
  • Lying
  • Change in activity level

Our body has a natural and organic ability to “self-regulate” when faced with stress. Ongoing stress, a single stressful or traumatic event, can disrupt this natural self-regulation process. However, balance can be restored, allowing us to once again self-regulate and respond to day-to-day stress the way we would prefer.

If you feel your child may be experiencing symptoms of stress, contact us for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation. Please call 949-400-5951.