Stress is a physical, mental or emotional reaction caused by a change that disturbs or interferes with the body’s normal equilibrium. When children are under stress, they may show changes in behaviour which may include:
- irritability or moodiness
- withdrawal from activities they used to love doing
- clinginess, being unwilling to let parents out of sight
- aggressive behaviour
- regression to earlier behaviours such as thumb sucking
- school refusal
- unwillingness to participate in family or school activities
Another way stress affects children is changes in vision, known as Streff syndrome.
Streff syndrome, also known as non-malingering syndrome, has been described as a functional vision problem. It often involves reduced or blurred distance and near vision, poor eye teaming and eye movement capabilities, visual field loss and a reduction in focusing.
It is a condition which is mainly exhibited in young children going through periods of emotional or visual stress. The visual system, while still active, is no longer controlled by the child when they are under increased levels of stress. Focusing becomes difficult, a tunnel vision effect in a child’s field of view arises, and it becomes hard for their pupils to function adequately during different light conditions.