AS April marks Stress Awareness Month, assistant director for the NSPCC in North East, Yorkshire and Humber Debra Radford talks about how the charity is helping children and young people.

As adults, we may have forgotten the everyday anxiety we felt as young people, but however things were for us, life for children in 2022 is very different.

Counsellors at the NSPCC’s Childline service regularly speak to children across Yorkshire and the UK who are under pressure and stress which has resulted in them experiencing anxiety.

For the last two years, the world has been forced to adapt to pandemic conditions and face uncertainty that could feel overwhelming for adults, let along young people.

This month marks the 20th annual Stress Awareness Month, which is held each year to raise awareness of the causes and potential cures for stress.

And I thought this would be a good opportunity to offer a few thoughts on how to spot signs of stress and anxiety in children, as well as how to help them with these issues.

Everybody experiences feelings differently, and the symptoms of stress or anxiety can be different for everyone and difficult for others to understand.

Stress and anxiety are feelings that everyone experiences, but some people find them easier to deal with than others. Also, what makes someone feel stressed on one day may not bother them the next. Stress can start as a simple worry and grow into panic, and leave you feeling shaky, nervous, tired, frustrated or upset.

Some children may try to hide how they are feeling because they worry they won't be taken seriously, believe others won't understand or feel that no one can help them.

If you notice your child is experiencing sudden mood or behaviour changes, sleeping problems, a drop in academic performance or changing their social habits and avoiding others, it’s possible they have something on their mind. And it’s important to have a conversation with them.

Ask how they are feeling, and if anything is wrong. Reassure them that everyone feels stressed from time to time, and encourage them to talk about their feelings, and try to examine the root of the problem – what is making them feel stressed?

Perhaps there’s an issue with schoolwork they’re worried about, or it could be to do with a relationship. They might be worried about a loved one, feeling overwhelmed by the news and world events or thoughts about their future.

Whatever their concern is, it’s important to be understanding. It’s not as simple as saying ‘you shouldn’t worry about that’.

What can be helpful, is exploring ways for children to manage their stress. Some children find it helpful to write or draw about their thoughts and feelings, while others find exercise or sports can help relax them.

Most importantly, encouraging young people to talk about how they feel is a great way to help them to feel better. Whether they talk to you, a teacher or friend, or one of our Childline counsellors, remind them they don’t have to face things alone.

There is more information on the Childline website – – and other tools which can help children who are feeling stressed or anxious. The Art Box is a great way for children to creatively deal with their stress, while the message boards let them speak with others their own age to see how they have dealt with similar situations.

There’s also help available on the NSPCC website – – for parents or carers who are worried about the wellbeing of a child, or who would like advice on how they can help a young person, and you can phone our helpline on 0808 8005000 or email to speak with one of our trained practitioners.