I think my daughter is stressing too much

When my daughter is stressed about a silly thing from school, she starts crying and freaking out. She is a bright student, always has a 4.0, but I am afraid she is stressing too much. I’m afraid it’s going to break her. I don't know if I should get her to a doctor or someone because this is not normal.

Daniel Kelley-Petersen
Daniel Kelley-Petersen
Mental Health and Career Counselor

Watching children go through challenges in their lives is difficult. On a very basic level, There exists a primal need to protect them from harm. The hard part for parents is letting them feel those challenges and working through them as they get older. At some point, there is a moment that occurs when the role as a parent shifts. Children no longer need the basics (food, shelter. water, safety) as much as when they were toddlers, but rather, their needs shift to wanting more support, encouragement, advice, and room to make mistakes. This is where the ability to communicate with them, letting them direct the sails to gather the wind needed to move, is so important. Keep the lines of communication open and be available to give feedback when they ask for it.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Pamela Suraci
Pamela Suraci
Build on your strengths, grow in your challenge areas and improve your life!

Oh dear - this is becoming all too common.  I suggest you have some conversations with your girl to figure out where she is getting the "information" that she builds anxiety around.  I see teens  who have heard teachers, parents, coaches, etc push the "highly selective colleges" idea on kids way too much.  Teens in particular are prone to black and white thinking, leading them to see one poor test performance, one off day, one not-great assignment as the make-or-break task on the path to successful adulthood.  If that's the case with your daughter, she needs you to help modulate both the incoming information (there are nearly 5000 colleges in the US - she will get into one of them!) as well as her reaction to that information.

As well, you and any other adults that are involved in parenting her need to discern fact from fiction.  The recent scandal around celebrities "buying" their kids into college is an indicator of how far off track we, as a culture, have gotten in terms of education.  A college education is certainly important, but we have allowed the marketing push to create so much stress and upset for our kids (and ourselves as parents) that they are actually less prepared to leave home and really engage in higher education than ever.

You may want to include a therapist in these conversations if you get stuck, but start with a parent-child conversation.  Help her figure out what is going on - if it is the "I have to get it right or I will have no future", calmly walk her through all the evidence that says that's just not true.  As well, let her know that being anxious now is NOT preparing her for a bright adulthood - it's preparing her for an anxious future.  She needs help figuring out how to balance her effort to attend to real and reasonable expectations, not over-inflated fear-based actions.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Keyonne Spencer, MS, LPC
Keyonne Spencer, MS, LPC
Enriching the lives of couples, individuals and families.

Hi there Mom! Just look at all of the things that a teen has to juggle and it's no surprise they're stress out. There are simply not enough minutes in the day to get everything done.  So, they react by cutting into important times such as social interaction and sleep.  Our fast paced, fast food, society is taking its toll on our teen generation. 

While multi-tasking seems to be a hot pop word, it simply doesn't work.  We aren't wired to do our best at multiple things at once.  We are not machines but rather humans who are going to quickly expire if we don't get a handle on our stress.

As adults, it's time we intervene and teach our teens how to maintain a healthy balance between work and play.  We need to help them prioritize and put first things, first.  Are you putting first things, first in your life?  If not, it's a good time to start. 

Best of luck to you and your daughter in whatever you decide to do. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Francesca Steele MS, LMHC, CHT
Francesca Steele MS, LMHC, CHT
soulspeak wellness florida, inc.

I understand that as a mom it must be really hard to see your daughter stressing about things at school. Based on your description it sounds as though she has very high expectations of herself and is pushing herself to keep up. I hear your concern and recommend that to start, you provide her a space where she can express herself openly to you without judgement. Although it may seem as though this is "not normal", unfortunately it is. From standardized testing, to awards, to scholarships, the pressure is on to perform at high levels for kids today. Secondly, I would recommend that you connect her with therapist that can teach her coping and stress management skills that can help alleviate some of her anxiety. A therapist can also help her identify any faulty beliefs she may have in regards to perfectionism or fear of failure. You're doing a great job keeping an eye out for your daughter and being in tune with her emotional wellness! 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Susan Resnik, M.Ed, LMHC
Susan Resnik, M.Ed, LMHC
Oxford Counseling Services

I hear that you are concerned about your daughter's reaction and her emotional well being. Her behaviors are worry some as you feel she seems to be approaching her breaking point. I would suggest speaking to your daughter about the situation at school and her feelings. Listening and acknowledging your daughter's feelings without judgement or giving solutions is a very effective communication skill. Ask your daughter how she feels about speaking to a therapist or her doctor. Someone that she knows and feels comfortable talking to about her feelings and learning healthy coping skills to address stressful situations.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Ingrid d
Ingrid d'Aquin
I am offering new possibilities in life. I help people find RELIEF and HOPE..

It sounds to me like your daughter is anxious to be perfect and has a low tolerance for failure.  As her mother one of the most important messages you can share with her is that she need not be perfect, nor is it necessary.  As a matter of fact, failure and making mistakes are only opportunity to learn and grow.  Give her permission and more importantly she needs to give herself permission to be a perfectly flawed human.  It may be a good idea to see a therapist to help her learn how to reframe some of her negative beliefs so she can form healthier thinking habits. Warm wishes.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Danae Bergman
Danae Bergman
Specialty in treatment of adolescents, young adults, and those that love them.

children and adolescents who have a desire to achieve high grade point averages often have the symptoms you are describing. It sounds like, your gut is telling you to help her find ways to de-stress. Listen to your gut-always; as her mom, you know her needs better than anyone else. She would probably benefit from seeing a therapist to help her deal with the stress of being a high achiever. I provided the following suggestion to another parent with a similar concern: First identify the three most stressful aspects of the day. Do this by creating a circle on a regular size paper. (do this three times); ask your daughter how much of that circle can she confidently say she has under control. shade that in. The remaining parts of the circle are then named by intensity. (for example, in the circle labeled school anxiety, the client identified that she felt she could handle school anxiety 1 out of 4 days. The circle was split into 1/4. 1/4 of the circle was shaded . the remaining parts were labeled with the challenges that caused the client school anxiety.(these were 1. walking to class during passing time. 2. not having the assignments completed or at all. 3. feeling fat. after labeling each part; and making note of the percentage of the stress associated with each concern, free form thinking takes place and a pile of unwanted behaviors and genetic responses are portrayed  around the circle in bright colors. 

Using note cards, create a tree of concern; the concerns can be written on note cards. a concern = the behavior that leads to more trouble.  For example, "all i could do was think about that extra slice of pizza, I was unable to concentrate on the teacher's explanation of the assignment" (the concern you would write on the note card is Inability to concentrate. Now, fill up the back of the notecard with all of the different factors causing this pattern. nack. (

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Mirella Caro-Cortes
Mirella Caro-Cortes
Helping Families & Marriages Repair, Recover & Thrive

Dear Concern Mom,
Sadly, kids nowadays stress a lot about school and compete with one and another.  Determine Career-minded students, tend to be very hard on themselves and can eventually become very anxious about things.  Whereas, it is a good thing to be driven it can break you down too.  Therefore, I recommend that you find your young daughter someone that can help her find ways to cope with her strong desire to doing well in school. Getting ahead of it now before she gets worst is the best thing you could do for her.  Best of luck to you and your daughter. 
Sincerely,
Mirella~
Image and Likeness Counseling  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Thank you for being an observant parent and taking the very important step toward getting help for you as well as your daughter. The period of adolescence and emerging adulthood are tumultuous times for youth ( and their parents). The pressure to fit-in, be liked, and succeed could be some of the contributing factors for your daughter's stress. I  have had many adolescent clients who do very well academically, but keep it well hidden from their peers so that they can fit in. She is still learning about herself, her abilities and how to like herself none of which are easy tasks even for adults. The academic success that you refer to only tells part of the story. As I read your statement, I got a sense of what your daughter does and that you are proud of her academic accomplishments. However, I would also want to ask her who she is as a person and encourage her to explore that with assistance from a therapist.

By working with a therapist your daughter will have the opportunity to discuss her stress, fears, and focus on achievement with an objective person. As she gains a better understanding of the source of her stress and learns some stress management, she can also learn to communicate her concerns to you. 

I do recommend starting with a therapist rather than the doctor. If the therapist believes that your daughter's symptoms would benefit from a health exam and/or medication they will make that recommendation.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Nichole Price
Nichole Price
Specializing in Trauma and Related Disorders
Hello! First of all, thank you for paying attention to your daughter and noticing that she is concerned! It sounds like you have been a positive influence on her for her to be so focused on achievement and for her to care so deeply about her performance! Based on what you've said here, I understand that you are concerned that she is overly stressed, though. I share your concern. People of all ages have meltdowns when they become overwhelmed with stress, and the negative consequences of those meltdowns can definitely have a ripple-effect into other areas of our lives.

For your daughter, the thing I would want to know FIRST is this: does she feel she has adequate healthy coping skills to manage the stress she is experiencing? Because, it doesn't really matter WHAT she is stressing on...what matters is how she deals with her stress when it threatens to overwhelm her. I'd like to know what, exactly, that she does when she is feeling stressed that helps her to feel better. If she has only unhealthy coping skills (for example, sleeping, shutting-down, raging, self-attack with critical self-talk, etc.), or only one or two healthy skills, we would want to teach her some additional healthy strategies to help her KNOW that she can cope. 

Just one risk of not addressing this issue now could be that she may come to "learn" that stress is 'unbearable' which may cause her to turn to destructive or escapist strategies to avoid the discomfort, the pain of feeling hopeless, and/or the negative belief that she "cannot help herself."  I definitely think it would be worth both your whiles to have her evaluated by her family doctor and/or a professional counselor. With a counselor specifically, she could learn the needed skills as well as be evaluated for other issues that may be contributing to the issue (for example, a learned belief that she "must be perfect or she is not worthy.") Plus, having a neutral support person to help her meet her personal goals is always a good thing. Good luck, mom and daughter!

Learn more about me and my practice at www.EMDRheals.com
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Meg Elam
Meg Elam
Addiction and Wellness Specialist

As a therapist and mother of four children (3 of whom are teenagers)...I hear your pain.  Raising children in our society is no joke.  Kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure from parents, peers, teachers, coaches and the list goes on and on.  Fear and anxiety can suffocate students particularly as they approach their high school years where they are bombarded with questions about their future and expected to select professions before they have even gone to college!!  

I highly encourage the teens I work with to strive for balance in their lives- and we can model this for our children by how we choose to live!  Encourage your child to spend time with friends, join you for a yoga class, read a book, pick up a hobby or go out to exercise.  If your daughter continues to feel overwhelmed by stress, it would be a good idea to select a therapist for her to go speak with.  As much as we love our children, there are times where kids need to consult with a neutral 3rd party.  It can be a wonderful thing for kids to have a therapist whom they can confide in.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lisa Jones
Lisa Jones
Licensed Professional Counselor

As a  Parent it can be very hard to see your child struggling. It sounds like they’re experiencing anxiety from their stress. It’s always a good idea to check in with your family doctor. Many children are experiencing anxiety and can benefit from individual counseling services to help them cope with their stress. School pressures and academic achievements  can you create physical stress responses in the body. Seeing a counselor can also help you as the mom or dad have available tools to provide Continued support. It sounds like you are a great support for them and helping them connect to their resources.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Angela Mason, LMSW
Angela Mason, LMSW
Individual, Couple, Family Therapist

It sounds as though your daughter is struggling to manage her anxiety and she is having really big reactions to what you view as small problems or issues. What have you tried with her in the past? As exhausting as it might be, a good first step is to empathize and validate her feelings. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Amy Higgs OTR/L, CLT, CAPS
Amy Higgs OTR/L, CLT, CAPS
Mobile Occupational Therapist: sensory bus for children with ASD, SPD, ADD/ADHD and trauma

It may be helpful to register for a class you can take together. I would recommend mindful meditation or yoga, just the two of you. Something you find time for in a weekly basis. Yoga is amazing in learning mindfulness and reducing stress. I use yoga and mindful techniques when working with children and recommend it to parents to engage with their children. Hope this helps. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Cory Ian Shafer LPC
Cory Ian Shafer LPC
Psychotherapist, Jungian, Hypnotherapy

Its hard to answer this question based on the information presented but I shall give it a go, Is it possible that your daughter is afraid of failing, I've seen many children and kids who get stressed out over grades or performance in sports, can you tell me "what was your grade in fourth grade English? Or what was the score of the 7th game you played in football when you were a junior? Much of what happens to us is insignificant and we worry over things which really , in the long term don't matter much to us. But ask yourself this question, Is your daughters reaction to what is going grossly out of proportion with what would normally be expected, if the answer is yes, a visit to a psychotherapist might not be a bad idea to learn some coping skills and to alter our reaction to life.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

I agree with your observation about your daughter feeling stressed.  

Are you able to open this topic in conversation with her?

Also, reflect on your own expectations as a parent.  

It is possible that your daughter is trying to please you by getting consistently high grades.

If your daughter prefers talking in confidence to a therapist, then this may help her regain a sense of balance in her life so that schoolwork feels less stressful.

I wouldn't take her to a doctor because based on what you write, the problem is psychological and emotionally based.  While the stress may have physical symptoms, addressing the root cause of the problem has nothing to do directly with something being physically wrong with your daughter.

Unless there is some other medical or physical problem that would explain your daughter's sense of stress,  I'd start first by bringing your areas of concern to your daughter, then possibly to a therapist. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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