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.

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.

Submit your own question

More Answers