5 Signs Your Child is Burned Out

5 signs your child is burned out (and how to help)

Let’s face it: life is hard. Between parenting, work, family and friends, volunteer work, and maybe even caring for aging parents, our plates are full. For the past few years, life seems even harder. We’ve had pandemic stress, rising food prices, and global tension in many places of the world. You may have heard the term “burnout” But what exactly is burnout? Can kids get burnt out too? And how can you prevent it without adding more to your already long to-do list?

What is burnout?

The APA (American Psychological Association) broadly defines burnout as the state of being physically, emotionally, or mentally exhausted, often due to high levels of stress, and accompanied by decreased motivation, increased negativity, and lowered performance. It’s frequently associated with working long and stressful jobs, but work isn’t the only life event that can trigger these feelings.

Adult burnout can be caused by a variety of things like being a primary caretaker, having a child with a disability or illness, financial concerns, lack of support with caregiving, working a full time job while raising kids, and a lifestyle that is overbooked, overscheduled and overstressed.

In adults burnout manifests as anxiety, irritability, anger, exhaustion, feelings of overwhelm, hopelessness, depression, and possibly even thoughts of suicide.

Thankfully, there has been an increase in resources designed to help adults navigate their burnout, and how to prevent it in the future. But what’s much less talked about, is that kids can experience burnout, too.

How can kids get burnt out?

For kids, burnout can be triggered by the demands of schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, and having limited time to recharge. The signs of burnout can be harder to spot in kids, but if you know what to look for, you can catch it quicker.

5 signs your child is burned out:

  1. They seem more irritated or withdrawn: Things that weren’t a big deal in the past are suddenly causing a lot of distress.
  2. They have negativity towards things that used to excite them: Activities or events that used to spark excitement in your child now seem like a chore. This could look like reluctance to go to dance practice, a lack of desire to go to the library, or statements like “I’m terrible at this.”
  3. Their focus has decreased: You notice their attention span has decreased in things from completing homework assignments to engaging in meaningful conversations.
  4. They are experiencing more anxiety or fear: Your child may develop anxiety around things they didn’t used to fear- like not performing well in school, or being nervous to attend school altogether.
  5. They seem “stuck” even during free time: Downtime that your child used to spend doing their favorite hobbies is now time spent in a seeming limbo state. This might look like a child who can’t settle into alone time on a weekend or who wanders around the house without any real desire to engage in something.


Although no parent wants their child to be experiencing burnout, there is good news: meditation is a clinically proven way to reduce stress. And the best part? Meditation and mindfulness can be done virtually anywhere, so it can be practiced whenever and wherever feelings of burnout take place.

How does meditation help kids with burnout?

Circling back to the broad definition of burnout, burnout is typically linked to high amounts of stress, with little time to recharge. This is where meditation and mindfulness come into play.

Burnout typically involves a lot of self-judgment and negativity (see #2 above) and meditation has been linked to decreasing self-judgment, and improving overall emotional regulation. Meditation also helps increase self-compassion, another important piece of the metaphorical “self-judgment” puzzle when it comes to stopping burnout.

Adjusting their daily routine

The very practices of meditation and mindfulness require taking time to rest and recharge in a way that is truly beneficial, rather than mindlessly scrolling on social media, or binge watching a TV series. When a child builds meditation into their daily routine, they are effectively prioritizing time for themselves, and time where they can just be.

Even 5 minutes of daily meditation can reduce negative affect, a practice now commonly known as micro meditation. When building meditation into a daily routine, it’s important to ask your child what they need. For example, they might say they feel stressed on the schoolbus, have trouble falling asleep at night, or simply need help learning healthy ways to relax. Once you have a baseline, you can implement daily breathwork, calming bedtime stories, or guided story meditations. It’s all about what is going to help your child feel better, inside and out.

Wee Meditate is an all-in-one platform that teaches children meditation and mindfulness skills that transfer over to their everyday life. Set in a storybook world, our content is centered around representative characters that learn to meditate along with your child. From micro-meditation practices, to guided and bedtime stories, Wee Meditate has content that fits your child’s needs.

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Want help getting started?

  • Explore The Night Bridge, a guided story meditation about transitioning from daytime to nighttime. Try listening after dinner, as kids begin to wind down from the activities of the day and get ready for bed.
  • Gently relax with our newest body scan meditation, Melt, where children envision their bodies becoming soft and relaxed, like a gooey chocolate chip cookie straight from the oven.
  • Snuggle into bed with The Lantern in the Woods, where Mouse, Deer, and Bear investigate a light glowing deep in the forest.