7 Signs Your Child Is Burned Out

By Lexi Walters Wright
Email Email
Chat's logo Chat's logo

At a Glance

  • Kids with learning and thinking differences often face more hurdles and stress than their peers.

  • Too much work and stress can lead to becoming overloaded, exhausted and burned out.

  • Burnout can keep a child from staying motivated to work on challenges.

Your child works hard to build her skills and manage her challenges. Like many kids with learning and thinking differences, she deals with hurdles, setbacks and stresses—without giving up.

Still, at some point, all the hard work and stress can turn into overload and lead to burnout. And when it does, it can squash the very motivation that keeps her working to improve.

Burnout doesn’t come on quickly. It may take several weeks, months or even years before you notice a change in your child’s behavior. But knowing what to look for can help you protect her from becoming exhausted and shutting down.

Here are seven common signs of burnout:

  1. Your child procrastinates: She used to be motivated to start homework right after school. Now, you have to remind her several times. And she still complains and stalls.

  2. Your child is apathetic: She doesn’t seem to care about things like she used to. When you used to ask, “How did speech therapy go today?” she would describe her session in detail. Now she shrugs and says, “OK, I guess.”

  3. Your child avoids situations: She loved the first few months of her social skills group. Now she comes up with excuses not to go.

  4. Your child is anxious or fearful: Studying for exams has always been hard on her. But her test anxiety has become so intense this semester that she cries each night during review.

  5. Your child is negative: Her positive attitude has disappeared. You often hear her say, “What’s the point?” And she no longer finds activities fun that she used to.

  6. Your child has trouble concentrating: She can only study for about 10 minutes before becoming distracted. She used to last twice as long.

  7. Your child is testy: She seems to be easily annoyed or upset by little things that didn’t bother her in the past.

Recognizing the signs allows you to make changes at home to keep burnout at bay. Start by talking to your child about what she’s feeling, and what she thinks might help. Discover tips for avoiding burnout. And learn about stress and anxiety in kids with learning and thinking differences.

Key Takeaways

  • As stress piles up, burnout can develop slowly and over a long period of time.

  • Having a negative or indifferent attitude can be a sign of burnout.

  • Talking to your child about what she’s feeling is a good first step toward reducing burnout.

About the Author

About the Author

Lexi Walters Wright 

is the former Community Manager at Understood (u.org/community). As a writer and editor, she helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM 

serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.

Did you find this helpful?

Stay Informed

Sign up for weekly emails containing helpful resources for you and your family.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Please wait...

By signing up, you acknowledge that you reside in the United States and are at least 13 years old, and agree that you've read the Terms and Conditions. Understood.org does not market to or offer services to individuals in the European Union.