A lack of energy, emotional bleakness, and decreased levels of interest in being physically active typically characterize fatigue. While it can be scary as a parent to notice your child showing signs of excessive tiredness or fatigue, we often find that a tired child is not always a sick child. Some causes of fatigue can be treated at home, while others may require a doctor visit. Below, find more explanation of the causes of fatigue as well as various options for prevention.
Lack of sleep & irregular sleeping patterns
If your child experiences lack of sleep or an irregular sleeping pattern for any various reason, it can usually be remedied by an adjustment in the child’s routine to allow for more time to sleep. We recommend setting your child’s bedtime an hour or two earlier or allowing him to get up a little later in the morning as time may allow. Even if you believe your child currently gets plenty of sleep for his age, he may require more sleep to feel fully rested. Observe correlated sleeping patterns and levels of tiredness to determine their ideal amount of sleep per night.
Emotional stress is a serious concern that must be addressed immediately to avoid long-term consequences. Although stress can be unavoidable (for example, if you’ve moved and your child is starting at a new school), you can minimize it by encouraging your child to engage in healthy conversation and making a special effort to help them feel confident and content. Other types of emotional stress are more avoidable and, if the stress leads to fatigue, should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Bullying, academic anxiety, and pressure to perform athletically are all forms of negative emotional stress that can eventually manifest itself physically.
The hectic schedules we intentionally or unintentionally place upon our children can unfortunately result in lack of sleep. If your child participates in after-school and weekend activities, he or she may not have enough time to properly decompress before going to bed, potentially resulting in poor sleep quality and quantity. Examine your schedules and determine how you can make rest a priority—maybe even for both of you!
Depression can undoubtedly cause fatigue, especially in teens, and is extremely important to address due to the associated negative long-term consequences. If your child seems listless, apathetic, and lacks energy for activities they once enjoyed, depression could be a factor. If you believe your child is depressed, particularly if circumstances have not changed significantly before the abnormal behavior began, a chemical or hormonal imbalance could be to blame. The child needs to be examined in the office to further investigate and treat the symptoms. If a psychiatric illness is suspected, then they will be appropriately referred to a mental health provider.
Mononucleosis (also known as “mono”) can cause extreme fatigue in teenagers. Mono is transmitted by saliva, so it is contractible from drinking, sharing utensils, coughing, or any other method of saliva transmission. Mono often causes significantly infected tonsils, fever and cold symptoms. If you suspect your child has mono, please call to have them evaluated.
Other Causes of Fatigue:
- Anemia is characterized by a lower-than-average red blood cell count and iron deficiency, and is more likely to affect teens and girls in particular.
- Low thyroid is not particularly common, but your doctor may perform a test to rule it out if there appears to be no other cause for your child’s fatigue.
- Keep your child feeling energized and healthy by keeping a close eye on their daily routine and activities.
- An hour before bedtime, create a “sleepy” environment by turning down lights and turning off television, iPads and other electronics.
- Establish a pre-bedtime routine (brushing teeth, choosing the next day’s clothing, prepping school things, etc.) to “tell” your child’s brain to prepare for sleep.
- As a general suggestion, consider limiting your child’s participation in extracurricular activities to no more than three or four days per week. Every child needs allotted time to do schoolwork, casually hang out with friends, bond with family, and relax. If your child is particularly active throughout the year with sports and other activities, consider requiring him to take a season (two to three months) off to simply be a kid.
- Always encourage your child to maintain a reasonably healthy diet and to drink plenty of water. This will help keep her immune system strong and reduce her chances of fatigue-inducing illness.