For Parents

For Parents

For Parents

Dear parents,

Welcome to HEADEGGS. This website is all about headaches in children and adolescents. It focuses on the two most common recurring headache types: tension-type headaches and migraines.

Headaches are a common problem in children and especially in adolescents. They can negatively impact many different areas of a child‘s life. For example, children with headaches may find their concentration suffers, school absences increase, moods deteriorate, or that they regularly cancel meeting with friends. This is stressful not only for the children, but also for their family. The good news is that you can do something about headaches! This is why it is so important to actively engage against headaches.

The website HEADEGGS is primarily aimed at children and adolescents, to provide information about headaches and how to deal with them. All information on the website is based on science. In addition, the usefulness of this website is currently being tested in randomized controlled trials in clinical and school settings.

In addition to content for children and adolescents, we have summarized some important information for you, the parents. Feel free to share this site with grandparents or teachers so that they, too, can better understand headache pain and optimally support your child.

Enjoy exploring and learning!

Here, you will find four exciting sections with lots of information.
  • Using the website
  • Why headaches?
  • Headache types
  • Supporting your child

Here’s how you can support your child in using the website:

Encourage your child to familiarize themselves with the website....

…if he or she has problems with headaches, to be well informed about the two most common types of primary headaches and what they can do about them is really important.

…even if he or she has not had headaches before, this website will give them tips on how to keep it that way.

Take a look at the website together with your child...

…so that you are equally well-informed.

…to be able to support your child in dealing with or preventing headaches.

…to learn the differences between a tension-type headache and a migraine, because it is important to treat them differently!

…so that you can learn how to manage headaches – both your child’s headaches and maybe your own.

Take a look at the website...

…to be able to support your child in dealing with headaches.

…to maybe get some good tips yourself for dealing with your own headaches.

Share this website and information....

…with grandparents or teachers so that they can understand and support your child.

Why does my child have headaches?

To properly manage or treat headaches, it is important to understand why they develop. There can be multiple reasons for headaches. Biological, psychological and social factors always play a role in the development of pain. This is referred to as the „bio-psycho-social“ model of pain.

A genetic predisposition is among the biological or physical causes that contribute to headache development. Some people are more prone to headaches than others. This is true for both tension-type headaches and migraines. Since genetic predisposition cannot be influenced, it is even more important to know the other factors, which can be influenced.

With tension-type headaches, for example, muscle tension in the neck and shoulder areas contribute to pain development. Very irregular sleep patterns can lead to more frequent migraine attacks, and poor sleep in general can increase tension-type headaches.

Stress is a very important psychological factor that affects both tension-type headaches and migraines. Stress arises, for example, from time pressure and other demands, as well as from emotional stress such as sadness or anxiety. Stress is also often related to social factors, such as troubles with friends, family, or at school. Stress can lead to physical tension in the muscles, which, as described above, also promotes pain.

To permanently reduce headaches, it is important to address all three types of factors: biological, psychological, and social.

For a clear explanation of how tension-type headaches develop within the bio-psycho-social model, watch the video “Tension-type headache? Got it under control!”

Tension-type headache is the most common type of headache. Almost everyone has had one. Have you?

Migraine is the second most common type of headache in children and adolescents. About one in 10 adolescents suffers from migraines. This number also corresponds to the frequency of migraines in adults. Girls and women are affected more often than boys and men.


  1. Migraines and tension-type headaches are primary headaches, meaning they have no underlying disease. These headaches don’t occur from physical damage, nor do they cause any physical damage to the body.
  2. The two types of headaches should be distinguished from each other because they are treated differently.

Printable information sheets about migraines and tension-type headaches can be found here.

But how do I know if my child has tension-type headaches or migraines?

Tension-type headaches versus migraines

To help distinguish between the two types of headaches, here is a table comparing typical symptoms of tension-type headaches and migraines in children.

Tension- type headache/ Migraine
Tension- type headache/ Migraine
Practical tips for distinguishing a migraine from a tension-type headache

To distinguish whether your child has a tension-type headache or a migraine, the “bounce test“ can be helpful. If your child’s headache gets stronger when they bounce up and down, this indicates they are having a migraine attack. If the headache does not get worse (or only gets slightly worse) when bouncing, then it could be a tension-type headache.

The headache diary is also a good way to distinguish the two types of headaches.


  1. To make a diagnosis, it is essential to see a doctor.
  2. A child can have both tension-type headaches and migraines! But recognizing that there are two different types of headaches is necessary to properly diagnose and treat them.

How to treat each type of headache can be found under “Supporting your child”.

Tension-type headache and migraine treatment

The treatments of acute tension-type headaches and migraine attacks differ significantly.

Tension-type headaches are often mild to moderate in intensity. Even though they are uncomfortable, you can still do normal activities. Studies have shown that distraction, physical activity, and relaxation help relieve tension-type headaches. Medication, however, should not be taken.

To learn how you can support your child during tension-type headaches, refer to the “Supporting your child” section.

Migraine attacks are usually accompanied by very severe headaches and other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. During a migraine attack, children usually want to rest. Medication can quickly interrupt a migraine attack. Ibuprofen is the recommended medication of choice. However a doctor must determine which medication is right for your child. Medications should always be taken as prescribed by a doctor, the correct dose at the right time. After taking the medication, your child should rest. The effects will start about 30 minutes after taking the medication, and then your child can resume his or her daily routine.

Migraine prophylaxis – taking migraine medication every day – is almost never recommended for children!

You can learn other ways to support your child in the “Supporting your child” section

Medication overuse headache

Headache medication should be taken only when necessary. That means avoiding medication when you have a tension-type headache, and only taking medication for an acute migraine attack.

If a child takes pain medication too often, a “medication-induced headache” may develop where taking pain medication actually makes the headache worse.

In adults, taking pain medication for more than 15 days a month can cause a medication-induced headache. In children, even less than that may be too many!

There is only one thing that can be done about medication-induced headache: you must abstain completely from pain medication. In most cases, this requires the support of pain experts.

You can read more about the individual headache types on the children’s pages! There, you can also watch a short video summarizing the most important information about tension-type headaches and migraines.

The tension-type headache pages for children can be found here:

The migraine pages for children can be found here:

There are several ways you can help your child deal with headaches.

First, we will give you tips on how to provide support for acute headaches.

Support for headaches

Measures for tension-type headaches
  • Distraction is particularly helpful for tension-type headaches. This is because the brain’s perception of pain can be altered. Distraction draws attention away from the pain, activating other areas of the brain instead. As a result, your child perceives their pain less strongly!
  • Of course, your child can distract himself on his own. Sometimes, however, it can be very helpful if parents provide the distraction.
  • We have compiled various child-friendly distraction options:
  • Purposeful relaxation also helps with tension-type headaches. Simple breathing exercises, preferably in the fresh air, can induce shortterm relaxation.
  • Try this breathing exercise together with your child.
  • Yoga and progressive muscle relaxation are exercises that reduce tension.
  • Learning a relaxation technique requires that you practice it regularly. Maybe you can make it a daily family activity? If a relaxation exercise is done regularly, the exercise could also be used effectively during acute headaches.
  • A video on how to do progressive muscle relaxation can be found here:
  • During acute tension-type headaches, your child can still exercise and play sports! These can help the headache go away quickly.
  • It is not necessary to take headache medication for tension-type headaches! Medications do not help any better than the strategies mentioned above; in fact, they can lead to more headaches if taken too often! Then you risk the danger of developing a medication-induced headache.
  • Strategies to alleviate tension-type headaches are summarized in the PDF file for parents.
Measures to take during a migraine attack
  • If your child has a migraine attack, he or she should take the appropriate dose of pain medication prescribed by the doctor early.
  • For most children and teens, the pain killer Ibuprofen helps best. After taking it, your child should take a short break until the medication takes effect (about half an hour), and then they can continue on with their day.
  • Important: Stay away from the drug Aspirin! It contains the ingredient acetylsalicylic acid (ASA for short), which can cause rare but serious side effects in children and adolescents.
  • If your child is unsure whether the headache is a migraine attack, the bounce test is a good way to find out.
  • Your child should always have their prescribed pain medication with them so they can take it when they need it, such as when they are at school.

The strategies to alleviate migraines are also summarized in the PDF file for parents.

Strategies to use when both types of headaches are present
  • If your child has tension-type headaches and migraines, it is important to tell the two types of headaches apart because they are treated differently! To learn how to tell the two types of headaches apart, see the “Headache types” tab.
  • How acute tension-type headaches and migraine attacks are treated is explained in the sections on each type of headache.
  • Any diagnosis(es) should be made by a doctor. But you can collect important information in a headache diary even before you see your doctor!

Important: if your child’s headaches change in frequency or severity, be sure to see a doctor again. You can find children’s headache experts local to Germany here:

Preventing headaches

There are many ways to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. These strategies can help prevent both tension-type headaches and migraines.

In addition, these strategies may even help prevent headaches from occurring altogether, and they generally contribute to better health for your child. You can support your child in integrating these measures into everyday life.

Exercise and sport
  • Sufficient exercise and sport can reduce or prevent migraine attacks and tension-type headaches.
  • Exercise and sport reduce the severity and frequency of tension-type headaches and migraine attacks. Doing regular exercise and playing sports also improves mental health and reduces stress. In addition, getting better sleep has a positive effect on pain.
  • You can find some exercise ideas here:
  • Motivate your child to incorporate more exercise into their daily routine. Maybe he or she can walk to school or ride a bike? Regular exercise in the fresh air has enormous health benefits.
  • In addition to recreational and daily movement, sports are important. Did you know that according to a study by the Robert Koch Institute, only 26% of children and adolescents get enough exercise (60 minutes a day)? Talk with your child about what type of sport they are interested in. Perhaps swimming, a team sport, running, or some other extracurricular activity?
  • Think about how much your child moves. What kind of „exerciser“ is he or she? And which type are you? Find out with the “Activity score”! It can tell you whether your child is moving enough, or whether there is room for improvement.
Stress reduction and relaxation
  • Does your child have a lot of stress? It may be helpful to work together to reduce the stress.
  • Stress is one of the most important migraine triggers and it promotes the development of tension-type headaches.
  • Stress is a part of life. But constant stress – or too many sources of stress – can lead to constant tension, making the body more sensitive to pain.
    It is therefore important to keep stress levels as low as possible and to relax after very stressful situations!
  • How much stress does your child have? How much stress do you have as a family? Where in your life can you work on reducing stress?
  • Your “stress score” can give you some clues. Find out if you and your child are in the “green zone” or if it is time to reduce your stress!

There are several ways to reduce stress and tension:

  • Reduce stress in everyday life using time management and resolving conflicts.
  • Try to balance stressful situations via a hobby, meeting friends, or doing other activities that are fun and enjoyable. Laughter relaxes!
  • Reduce tension with exercise, sports and relaxation.
  • You can find more detailed explanations and suggestions for your child here:
  • Many studies have shown that relaxation exercises reduce headache frequency and severity. Breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation or even yoga are easy to learn. With regular practice, they quickly lead to stress reduction and relaxation. Motivate your child to learn a relaxation exercise. Maybe you can practice together! Here are instructional videos for 2 relaxation techniques:
  • Getting enough good quality sleep can reduce the duration and frequency of headaches. A regular sleep schedule is especially important for migraines.
  • Many things can support a good night’s sleep. In addition to adequate sleep duration, a regular sleep-wake rhythm and consistent meal- and bedtime routines are important. Also, all screens, such as computers and cell phones, should be turned off about 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light from screens suppresses the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, which makes it difficult to fall asleep. Napping longer than 30 minutes during the day and consuming caffeinated beverages can also reduce sleep quality.

You can find more tips on getting a good night’s sleep here:

How well does your child sleep? Find out if there is room for improvement using the “Sleep Score”!

Dealing with digital media
  • Yes, screen time can have an effect on headaches. So, keep an eye on how much time your child spends using digital media.
  • However, there is no proof that media consumption has a direct influence. What we do know is that too much time using smartphones and computers is associated with less movement and worse sleep. This, in turn, promotes headaches.
  • But do not demonize digital media. For young people in particular, social media allows contact with peers, which is very important to them. The German Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) provides tips on how to use digital media in a healthy way: