Stress in Children: Help Your Child Overcome Stress and Enjoy Their Childhood

Childhood should not be stressful but in today’s culture, stress in children is becoming more and more frequent. The pressures of school, sports, and all that the media throws on our children, a child can quickly feel overwhelmed! If you believe your child could be experiencing stress, consider the following:

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What are some sources of stress in children?

Changes and situations in family dynamics, school, friends, an overabundance of activities, not enough down-time or creative outlets, too much TV, social pressures, low self-esteem, separation from parents, or other sources unique to your child.

What are some symptoms of stress in children?

While it may be difficult to recognize symptoms of stress in children, below are some symptoms that may alert you to stress: mood swings, sleep patterns changes, acting out, bedwetting, frequent stomachaches and headaches, trouble concentrating, incomplete schoolwork, a change in academic performance, and/or withdrawing or isolating oneself. Some children may start lying, defying authority, or bullying other children while others may suffer from nightmares, clinginess to their parents, or overreacting to what are simply small problems. Very young children may begin new habits such as hair twirling, picking their nose, sucking their thumb, or other regressive behaviors.

Helping to Reduce Stress in Children

To start, proper nutrition and enough sleep must be ensured. The child will be unable to handle life’s daily stresses if they do not have enough sleep or proper nutrients.

Spending time with your child without distractions can help your child to open up and discuss what could be bothering them.

Be willing to listen to your child’s fears and offer loving and gentle guidance.

Exercise can help burn off extra steam, so get your child moving. Take a walk together or play an active game to help encourage exercise and provide an environment where your child can feel secure enough to open-up to you.

Encouraging your child to keep a journal to jot down their thoughts and feelings can help the child experiencing stress to become aware of what they’re feeling and give them another outlet.

If you know of a potentially stressful situation coming up like a doctor’s appointment, give your child plenty of notice so it’s not sprung on them. Be careful, though, of too much information as it can actually cause more stress. Be “matter of fact” and be available if your child needs to discuss what they are fearing.

Let your child know that some level of stress is normal. It’s OK to feel anxious or stressed and that other people feel the same feelings, too.

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