Reducing stress in children

Childhood stress is a common problem that does not get the exposure it deserves. Children of all ages can experience stress. Recognizing the signs and taking action is the key to helping your child’s mental and physical well-being. Stress in children can cause a variety of health issues and can quickly lead to severe depression if ignored.

There are many causes of stress in children, change is the main culprit in childhood stress and it comes in many forms.

Separation is a major cause of stress among children. Even as babies and toddlers, children experience great stress during the absence of a parent. A short time spent in day care, or at school, can have a great effect on the way your child behaves. Knowing your child’s routine while they are away can often help to curb the stress level. Children often have no sense of time, so telling your child you will pick them up after snack time or playtime often helps them to understand how long they have to wait.

School is another common factor in children’s stress levels. Along with the separation from their parents, school aged children have to cope with social status, education, extra curricular activities, and often high demands from their family. Be sure your child is not being overwhelmed with activities; limit the number of sports or other activities your child participates in to a threshold they can easily handle. Remind your child that if they ever need to talk you are available, or there is a school councilor available to them. It is also important that you prepare your child for starting school for the first time, often we are so excited and wrapped up in our own feelings that we forget to ask our children how they are feeling. It is important to communicate with your child, especially when they are first beginning, or going to a new school, to find out how they are feeling about the situation.

Home life can often produce a large amount of stress for children. Adults often accept stress as a part of everyday life without considering the effects that stress has on the younger members of the household. Divorce, separation, and martial issues are highly stressful for children of any age. Allowing your child to be upset and helping them talk about their feelings will lessen the stress they feel. Violence in the home will also intensify a child’s stress level, many couples opt to stay in abusive and volatile situations because they believe that it is what is best for the children, but violence in the home causes excessive stress on children of all ages and can create repeat behavior as they get older. Separation of the family would be the lesser evil in the case of abuse. 

Monitoring what you say in front of your children is as important as monitoring what they watch on television. Children may get stressed hearing you talk about problems at work, with money, with relationships, or any other troubles you maybe experiencing as an adult. Children’s minds are much simpler, and they do not have the capability to understand situations the way adults do. Seeing violence on television, even the news can cause a child great stress, and even fear that violence will affect them significantly. Little eyes and little ears are always open, be-careful.

Looking for signs of stress in your child will not always be an easy task. Some signs may be behavioral. These may include bed-wetting, changes in sleep pattern or appetite, and aggressiveness. There are often physical signs associated with stress as well; these symptoms may include stomachaches, or headaches, or an overall decrease in well-being. You must also pay attention to the formation of any bad habits such as nail biting, or nose picking, as these can be subtle signs of stress in children.

There are easy and effective ways of reducing stress in your children. Ensuring you child get s enough sleep is vital to their physical and mental well-being, proper nutrition, and a set routine will also help your child to beat stress. In addition try to schedule at least thirty minutes of one-on-one time for you and your child to connect on a regular basis. Most importantly make sure your child knows that you are always there for them to talk, listen or have fun. An honest and open relationship with your child will allow them to approach you and share their feelings without worry of causing you more stress. Children often feel responsible for issues that are out of their control. Explaining a situation to your child in an age appropriate manner will show them that you are honest and easy to talk to; this will reduce stress in the future.