How to identify stress in children with Dr Margaret DeJong and Dr Jeyda Ibrahim-Ozlu

GOSH Reception

What does stress look like in a child?

  • A change in behaviour (withdrawn, irritable, sad, angry, wetting bed)
  • A change in sleep pattern (trouble falling asleep, nightmares, waking up often)
  • Signs of anxiety (fearful, clingy, excessive worrying, nervous habits)
  • Panic attacks (extreme terror, shallow breathing, shaking, chest pain, dizziness)
  • Signs of low mood (not enjoying usual activities or friends, reluctance to go to school, crying, comfort eating or eating less, self-harming behaviour, irritability, trouble concentrating)
  • Aches and pains (tummy ache, headache)

What causes stress in children?

  • Difficulties in friendships
  • Tensions at home (arguing, parental illness, financial stresses)
  • Grief/significant loss (a pet or family member or friend)
  • A traumatic event
  • Stress at school (exams, learning difficulties)
  • Big life events or transitions (divorce, changing school or starting secondary school, moving)
  • Bullying (physical, verbal, through social media)
  • Physical health problems

Top tips

Dr Margaret DeJong and Dr Jeyda Ibrahim-Ozlu have identified 7 top tips parents can implement into their daily lives to ensure their children do not become stressed. 

  1. Talk to your child. (Ask how they are. Show understanding and offer comfort. Encourage them to talk but don’t force it.)
  2. Talk to school (Have they noticed a change? Are they concerned? What can they do to support?)
  3. If behaviour has become difficult, praise and reward positive behaviour and ignore undesirable behaviour if possible.
  4. If sleep is a problem, make sure a bedtime  routine is well established and remove all technology/phones/computers for an hour before bedtime.
  5. Try and keep calm around your child and do not show your own anxiety and stress
  6. Encourage your child to relax and do things they enjoy. Try and find time for relaxed family gatherings.
  7. If difficulties continue or worsen seek professional advice. Speak to your doctor.

Margaret DeJong

Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist

Dr Margaret DeJong is an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry. She has worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital for nine years and is currently head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health. She is also clinical lead in the paediatric liaison service, providing child psychiatry expertise to hospitalised medically ill patients and their carers.

If you would like to view Dr Margaret DeJong's full profile please click here

Jeyda Ibrahim-Ozlu

Clinical Psychologist

Dr Jeyda Ibrahim-Ozlu has worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital for a year and is a clinical psychologist within the Parenting and Child team. Dr Jeyda Ibrahim-Ozlu’s areas of expertise are children with a background of abuse and trauma. She provides individual treatment for complex trauma and PTSD using trauma-focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) as well as behavioural interventions for managing challenging behaviours.

Referral Form

This form is the first step in the process to refer a child to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).  

Please complete the form below, providing as much information as you can. Please note that to progress with a referral, we require a medical report for the patient. This can be submitted by the parents rather than directly from the child’s doctor. 

What happens next?

After you complete and submit the form, one of our team will contact you within two UK working days.  

Your Details
Relationship to Patient:
Preferred Language:
Patient Details
What is the purpose of your referral?
Doctor Details
Funding Details
Who is paying for your treatment?

Mandatory fields

Browse A-Z