DOC TALK: Identifying Stress in Children

DOC TALK: Identifying Stress in Children

Talia Filippelli is a psychotherapist, certified holistic health coach and certified personal trainer. She has been featured on CBS News as a mental health expert and was voted one of NJ Family Magazine’s Top Kids Docs. Her practice – Starr Therapy – is located at 306 Washington Street, Suite 202, right here in Hoboken.

300_7154Q: How do I know if my kids are stressed out?

As adults, we have the tendency to minimize or disregard stress in children and teens. Maybe you’ve said something like this: “You have a lot of homework, so what! When I was your age…”

The fact that kids cry hysterically when you drop them off at school, get frustrated during a game, or go through those dramatic tween years when your son or daughter has a new best friend every week, all seem to be part of the normal childhood experience. But if you dismiss those experiences as “normal” without looking at them closer, you child may be at-risk for developing a lifelong struggle with managing stress.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 80% of kids and teens with mental disorders don’t receive treatment. Yikes! This is not meant to scare you, but to give you a clearer understanding that stress doesn’t begin in adulthood.

The truth is, we aren’t born with the skills to cope with feelings such as sadness, anxiety and fear. But we can develop them. Here are a few tips to help you raise emotionally intelligent children.

First, know what you’re looking for:

Depression: look for irritable mood, anger, dropping grades in school

Anxiety: look for clinginess and chronic complaints of stomachaches and headaches

Fear: look for argumentative behavior and disrupted sleep patterns

Next, don’t overdo your approach:

  • Practice W.A.I.T.: Why Am I Talking? Follow a ratio of listening 4 times more than you speak.
  • Avoid hyper-parenting: being overly involved, overly controlling, overly stimulating AKA “Helicopter Mom and Dad”

Lastly, give your kids some useful tools:

  • Teach them to compartmentalize – break down major goals into smaller, more manageable tasks
  • Ask them to share a rose and a thorn everyday – talk about one positive thing (rose) and one negative thing (thorn) that occurred during that day.

Remember, kids are amazingly resilient. Let’s make sure we arm them with the proper tools to deal with life’s curveballs, even if their version of a curveball is being left out during recess. And if you find you could use backup, call us for a free phone consultation at 201-218-7431 to get your children leading healthier and happier lives.

Have a personal question you’d like answered? Email Talia at



Twitter: @StarrPsych

Starr Therapy New Logo

Authored by: hMAG

Leave a Reply