It’s tempting for us grown-ups to remember childhood as an idyllic time. Sometimes, we think that since children don’t have to worry about paying the bills, keeping a job, cleaning the house, and so forth, they can’t possibly have any problems. This is a really counterproductive way of thinking, though, because stress in children is real. And they need your help to deal with it.
Children do not have the coping mechanisms that adults do. This is why seemingly small things can be very upsetting to children. So be patient and learn to recognize your kids’ stress and help them cope. Here are some things to look for and some tips on helping them deal with their stress.
You Might Also Like: HOW TO RECOGNIZE STRESS IN YOUR KIDS
Physical & Emotional Symptoms of Stress in Children
Stressed children may exhibit physical symptoms, such as diarrhoea, hives or rashes, restless sleep, changes in appetite, and /or nausea.
A stressed child may exhibit depression, excessive sensitivity, or social withdrawal. Stressed kids may be aggressive or have angry outbursts.
So if you see these symptoms in your child, what can you do? It’s tempting to do nothing. Parents may think it will go away on its own, or that their child will outgrow it. But stress needs to be confronted and coped with so that it does not become entrenched in your child’s thought and behaviour patterns. Here are some things you can do.
You Might Also Like: VISION BOARDS FOR KIDS – WHAT AWESOME BENEFITS DO THEY DELIVER?
Ways to combat stress in children
Really listen. You may ask your stressed child what’s wrong, or why he/she is acting a certain way, and you may not get an answer. Or you get an answer like “Nothing.” But really listening means paying attention to your child’s words and body language even when they don’t know you’re watching. Certainly asking your child what is wrong is a good thing to do; it shows you care. But don’t interrogate him/her, or expect your child to be able to verbalize exactly what’s occurring in his/her life and how it’s affecting him/her. Even some adults have trouble with this. So try to “read” into the passing comments, complaints, and body language of your child.
If you express empathy, it shows your child that you do notice and understand. Verbally expressing empathy can also help your child build a vocabulary to explain his/her stressful feelings. You might say, “I bet it hurts your feelings when people call you names. It hurts mine, too,” and share an experience from your past.
Help Your Child Be Proactive
Work with your child in finding solutions to his/her stress. Sit down and make lists of things he/she could do, such as writing a letter to the stress-causing person or cutting back on some of his/her extra-curricular activities. Let your child know that he/she does not have to be doing something 24 hours a day to have personal worth. He/she has worth because of who he/she is!
What are some ways you help your children to relieve their stress? Comment below.