Cork City Hall|12th & 13th October

Stressed out kid burnt out kid stress in children

Stressed Out, Burnt Out Pre-Teens of Ireland - Sheila o'Hanlon


Over the past few years, I find more and more children are suffering from executive adrenal STRESS. This is unusual to me because as the title suggests “executive” implies stress relating to making decisions and managing businesses or suitable for people with important jobs in business. (Cambridge dictionary)

So my burning question was how does a 9-year-old girl become adrenally fatigued? Adrenal glands secrete hormones into the body when they perceive a threat, harm or danger to the person. These hormones pack enough of a punch to send massive amounts of energy to your muscles so you can run away from the perceived danger! Historically our adrenal glands helped us to escape sabre tooth tigers and neighbouring tribes wielding clubs on a wife hunt in the cave times.

These levels of stress on children cause many symptoms and side effects, such as:

  • jittery movements of limbs and eyeballs
  • irritability and mood swings
  • afternoon energy crashes
  • cravings for sugary foods and stimulants like fizzy drinks
  • low mood, frequent outbursts or tantrums
  • difficulty sleeping or settling down for sleep at night
  • nail-biting
  • bed-wetting
  • nervous ticks (blinking, clearing throat, twitching)
  • restlessness at school
  • daydreaming
  • short attention span
  • digestive problems
  • pain in the stomach or abdomen, constipation or diarrhoea
  • leg pain
  • general tiredness.

Upon investigation into the lives and life pressures of the ever-growing numbers of stressed out, burnt out pre-teens there were quite a few common threads. A lot of kids are being rushed from the very moment they open their eyes in the morning. Get up! Hurry up! We'll be late! The air of panic is thick in the house as everyone flies around grabbing clothes, brushing teeth, tripping over pets, stuffing lunches into schoolbags, last minute revising of Irish homework or getting diary signed to give you permission to go on the school tour. They sit learning facts on a multitude of subjects for 6 hours, then get picked up, stuck in traffic jams with stressed-out parents, eat something fast then off they go to hurling practice, music lessons, ballet, basketball practice, drama classes. They make time for homework and video games where they are being chased and shot at with bright flashing graphics exciting your already frantic adrenal glands. Even listening to their busy schedules would exhaust you.

Wouldn’t that daily routine set anyone’s adrenals into overdrive? Remember, kids are just small adults and their stresses are as huge and serious to them as our grown-up stresses are to us. We might have financial stress that keeps us awake at night and its 10/10 on the stress scale and they might be stressed over a spelling test and its 10/10 on their stress scale! In this talk, I will share ways to help lift the stresses from their little lives.

Sheila O'Hanlon

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