For Caregivers

For Caregivers

For Caregivers

Dear Caregivers,

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

Headaches are a common problem in children and adolescents. They can negatively impact many different areas of a young person‘s life. For example, youth with headaches may find their concentration suffers, school absences increase, mood deteriorates, or that they regularly cancel plans with friends. This is stressful not only for young people, but also for their families. The good news is that you and your child can do something about their headaches! This is why it is so important to actively prevent and manage headaches!

The website HEADEGGS was primarily created for children and adolescents, to provide them with easy-to-understand information about headaches and how to deal with them. All information on this website is based on science. Also, the usefulness of the Headeggs website is currently being tested in randomized controlled trials in clinical and school settings.

We have also summarized some important information for caregivers. Feel free to share this site with family members, teachers, and coaches so that they too can better understand headache pain and optimally support your child.

Enjoy exploring!

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

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

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

…if they have recurrent headaches. This will help them to be well-informed about the two most common types of primary headaches and what they can do about them.

…even if they have not had headaches before. This will give them tips on how to continue preventing headaches.

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 managing or preventing headaches.

…to learn the differences between a tension-type headache and a migraine: it’s important to treat them differently!

…so that you can learn how to best manage headaches – your child’s and maybe even 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 family members,  teachers, coaches, and other important adults in your child’s life 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.

Among the biological or physical causes that can contribute to headache development is genetic predisposition. This means that because of their genes, some people are more prone to developing headaches than other people. This is true for both tension-type headaches and migraines. Since genetic predisposition cannot be changed, it is therefore even more important to be aware of other factors, because these can be influenced and even modified.

In tension-type headaches, for example, muscle tension in the neck and shoulders can contribute to pain development. Additionally, irregular sleep patterns can lead to more frequent migraine episodes, and poor sleep in general can increase tension-type headaches.

Stress is an important psychological factor that can affect both tension-type headaches and migraines. Stress can arise from time pressures, the demands of a busy schedule, and from emotions like sadness or anxiety. Stress can also be related to social factors, such as challenges with friends, family, or school. Such stress can lead to physical tension in the muscles, which, as described above, also contributes to pain.

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

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

Tension-type headache are 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 experiences migraines, which is similar to the rates of migraines in adults. Girls/women are affected y migraines more often than boys/men.


Migraines and tension-type headaches are primary headaches, meaning they have no underlying disease. These headaches don’t occur from physical damage or structural problems in the brain, nor do they cause physical harm to the body when they occur.

The two types of primary headaches need to be distinguished from each other because they are treated differently.

Printable resources about migraines and tension-type headaches can be found at the links below.

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

Tension-type headaches vs. migraines

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

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, using the “bounce test” may help. If your child’s headache gets much stronger when they jump up and down, this suggests they are probably having a migraine episode. If the headache does not get worse (or only gets slightly worse) when bouncing, then it may be a tension-type headache.

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


To make a formal headache diagnosis, it is essential that your child sees a medical professional.

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.

Treatments for tension-type headache and migraine

The ways that we treat and manage tension-type headaches and migraine differ significantly.

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

More information about how you can support your child during tension-type headaches can be found in the “Supporting your child” section above.

Migraine episodes are usually accompanied by severe head pain as well as other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. During a migraine, children usually want to rest. Often, taking medication at the first sign of a migraine episode can quickly interrupt a migraine. However, a medical professional must determine which medication is right for your child to take. 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 until the medication has taken effect. Then, your child can resume their typical routine.

More information about how you can support your child during migraine headaches can be found in the “Supporting your child” section above.

Medication overuse headache

Headache medication should be taken only when necessary, and as recommended by a medical professional.

Taking pain medication too often can cause a “medication-induced headache” to develop, where taking pain medication actually makes the headaches worse and more persistent.

For example, in adults, taking medication for headaches for more than 15 days per month can cause a medication-induced headache. In young people, even less than that could have the same effect.

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

You can read more about the two types of primary headaches on the website pages for your child (with them or on your own).

There, you can also watch a short video summarizing key information about tension-type headaches and migraines.

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

The migraine pages for youth can be found here:

There are several ways you can help your child manage their headaches.

Support for managing headaches

Strategies for managing tension-type head-aches
  • 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 helpful if others provide the distraction.
  • We have compiled various youth-friendly options for distraction:
  • Purposeful relaxation can also help with tension-type headaches. Simple breathing exercises, preferably in the fresh air, can create short-term feelings of relaxation and reduce muscle tension.
  • You can try this breathing exercise together with your child.
  • Yoga and progressive muscle relaxation are other kinds of relaxation exercises that can help to reduce tension.
  • However, learning new relaxation techniques require practice, even when headaches aren’t present. Maybe you can make it a daily family activity or part of your child’s evening routine. Then, once a relaxation exercise is done regularly, it can also be useful during headaches.
  • You can try this progressive muscle relaxation exercise together with your child.
  • During tension-type headaches, your child can still exercise and play sports! These can actually help the headache to resolve.
  • It is not always necessary to take medication for tension-type headaches, as they do not typically help more than the strategies described above; in fact, they can lead to more headaches if they are taken too often!
  • Strategies to alleviate tension-type headaches are summarized in Caregiver Resource below.
Strategies for managing migraines
  • If your child has a migraine, they should take the appropriate dose of medication prescribed by their medical provider as soon as possible.
  • After taking their mediation, your child should rest until it takes effect. Then, they can continue on with their day.
  • 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 migraine medication with them so they can take it whenever they need it, including when they are at school.

Strategies to alleviate migraines are summarized in Caregiver Resource below.

Strategies when both types of headaches are present
  • If your child has tension-type headaches and migraines, it is important to know how to tell the two types of headaches apart because they are treated differently! To review how to do this, see the “Headache types” section above.
  • We explain how to treat tension-type headaches and migraines in the sections describing each type of headache.
  • Remember: Any formal headache diagnosis(es) should be made by a medical professional. But caregivers can help their child collect important information in a headache diary even before your medical appointment!

Important: If your child’s headaches change in frequency or severity, be sure to follow-up with their medical provider again. You can find pediatric headache experts local to your area here:

Preventing headaches

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

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

Physical Activity
  • Sufficient physical activity (i.e., exercise) can reduce the severity and frewuency of migraines and tension-type headaches. It can also help to prevent them.
  • Doing regular exercise and playing sports also improves mental health and reduces stress.
  • You can find some exercise ideas here:
  • According to a study by the Robert Koch Institute, only 26% of children and adolescents get enough exercise (60 minutes a day). You can motivate your child to incorporate exercise into their daily routine. Maybe they can walk to school or ride a bike. Regular exercise in the fresh air has enormous general health benefits.
  • In addition to recreational and daily movement, sports can be an important source of physical activity, skill building, and social connections. Talk with your child about what type of sport they may be interested in. Perhaps swimming, a team sport, running, or some other extracurricular activity?
  • Think about how much your child moves. What kind of “exerciser” are they? Which type are you? Find out with the Activity score! It can tell you whether you and your child are 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 because it is a key migraine trigger 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 important to keep stress levels as low as possible and to relax regularly, especially after 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 work on reducing your stress!

There are several ways to reduce stress and tension:

  • Reduce stress in everyday life by using good time management and working to resolve conflicts.
  • Try to balance out stressful situations with hobbies, time with friends, or other activities that are fun and enjoyable.
  • Reduce stress-related 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. Encourage your child to learn a relaxation exercise. Maybe you can practice together! Here are instructional videos for two relaxation techniques:
  • Getting enough good-quality sleep can reduce the severity and frequency of both types of headaches. A regular sleep schedule is especially important for migraines.
  • Your child can take many actions to support a good night’s sleep.In addition to getting enough sleep, having a regular, consistent sleep-wake rhythm and keeping consistent meal and bedtime routines are also important.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, making it harder 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
  • Screen time CAN impact headaches, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much time your child spends using digital media, which can include computers, cell phones, and video games. But we don’t yet know if there’s a direct relationship between headaches and screen use.
  • What we DO know is that too much screen time typically means less movement and poorer sleep. This, in turn, is what promotes more/worse headaches.
  • But be careful not to demonize digital media entirely, as there are some benefits. For example, media allows young people to connect with peers, which is important to them. Therefore, the key is for caregivers to support the use of digital media in healthy ways.