From the bogeyman for small children to the bogies of SATs and final exams for the college-bound, stress affects kids of all ages. The first thing a parent can do to help their child manage stress is to build a strong family unit. Include your children in family discussions and be on the lookout for stress in your kids.
Recognizing Stress in Children
Especially small children with under-developed communication skills may display stress very differently than an adult does. Often kids’ stress is internalized and most noticeable in physical symptoms such as frequent flu-like symptoms including headache, stomachache, and even nausea.
Children under stress may regress to behaviors like bedwetting, clinginess, and frequent crying. Behavioral symptoms may be extreme at both ends of a behavior spectrum. A normally active child becomes either listless or hyperactive, a usually docile child has fits of anger or a child that “acts out” becomes docile and introspective.
Some signs of stress in kids are easily confused with children’s mental disorders. For instance, if schoolwork slides or your child’s circle of friends undergoes a drastic change, it isn’t a sure sign that your child is on drugs. Situations like these may simply indicate a child’s inability to handle a stressful situation.
Helping Kids Reduce Stress
Children primarily learn by example. The best way to teach your child how to manage stress is by using the tools and articles at Stress Management Tips to learn to effectively manage your stressors. In addition, you can develop skills and child-oriented stress management techniques to help your kids recognize and manage their stressors.
Text courtesy of Motivated magazine. Photo by Lotus Carroll via Flickr.