Stress is as much prevalent amongst children as it is amongst adults. Stress in children basically comes from the imbalance of the demands placed on them and their ability to meet those demands. Sometimes these pressures come from external sources and sometimes it comes from within. Stress in an overwhelming feeling which can affect children of all ages; preschoolers can feel anxious and nervous because of getting separated from their parents and children older than that can get stressed due to peer pressures and academic pressures. Many parents involve their children into too many activities after school which leaves them with no time to play or relax. This over-scheduling can get overwhelming for them and they start to feel pressurized to perform well at everything. Sometimes the kids feel stressed if the environment at home is not comfortable for them like their parents are constantly fighting or there is financial difficulty at home, etc. Generally kids coming from a broken household are more susceptible to stress and anxiety. Stress can have a big adverse affect in a child’s life, if it is left unnoticed; because children do not understand it properly themselves and they surely do not know how to communicate it to someone else. Stress can dwell in the life of a kid for years before its signs are too obvious to miss. Therefore, it is certainly imperative that the elders around them keep an eye and take necessary steps to deal stress in children. Often therapy is a good answer to stress amongst children, since it is more comfortable for them to express themselves to a stranger rather than a member of the family or the school teacher. Also, the therapists have the right tool and techniques to deal and fix the problems of our delicate darlings. The common signs for stress in children are mood swings, changes in sleep patterns, behavioral changes, bedwetting, stomachaches or headaches, trouble in concentrating at school, thumb sucking, hair twirling, nose picking, etc. Slightly older children will pick up the habits of lying, bullying, condemning authority, overreacting, sudden low grades at school. Some children act out and start to misbehave to seek attention and let the elders know in their own way, that they need help. There are other children who withdraw and become quieter, shying away from the every possibility of socializing. Some children become clingier while others simply avoid having their parents around; it depends from child to child how he/she expresses his/her inner agony of stress. Let us try and understand stress in children by learning about its causes.
Causes Of Stress In Children
Bullying: Children can be very cruel to other children. Little children at the nurseries are also bullied. Bullying causes a child a lot of mental and moral trauma. They can feel lonely and feel like that they do not have anyone who can save them. They get stuck in a situation where they feel that telling parents would not solve their problem because they feel sure that the parents will judge them and telling the teacher would mean that the bullies will bully them more. You have to find a way to tell your child that if he/she is bullied then he/she can turn to you and as a parent you will do everything for him/her and make the situation easy for him/her. Let your kid know that he/she is not getting bullied because he/she is inadequate; it is because the bullies are weak and they are trying to defend themselves.
Lack Of Friends: You should know if your child have friends or not. If your child does not have any friends then make sure that he/she meet some kids and get friendly with them. You can arrange play dates or get your kid involved in the activities where he/she is certain to find some friends. Loneliness in children is one of the biggest reasons of stress amongst them. It can seriously affect your kid’s self confidence. In the meantime when he/she has no friends, you should give your child more and more of your time and be friendly to him/her.
Being Ignored: The lack of attention from parents stresses children out; they are always doing something or the other to grab their parents’ attention. If you work a lot or spend more time away from your kid then your kid might start to feel ignored which would depress him/her and leave him/her feeling unwanted. Constantly tell your kid that you love him/her and if you are away a lot then find a way to be constantly in touch with him/her just to let your kid know that you miss him/her as much as he/she misses you. You should try and spend quality time with your child every day.
Condemnation: Criticising your kid very often may leave him with low self esteem issues. Children are very delicate and susceptible; they are constantly seeking the approval of their parents and if instead of approval all they get is criticism then they start to feel insufficient. Self loathing also arises with condemnation from parents. As a parent, you might say something negative about your kid and forget it but the child will carry it inside of him/her for a long period of time, thinking over it. This is because children are vulnerable creatures and it is very important to keep a check on what we say to them and how we communicate it to them. If you will show confidence in your child’s abilities, no one or nothing will ever be able to bring him/her down in life.
Miserable Parents: Your child wants you to be happy because that is what makes him/her happy. Believe it or not, every time your child sees you unhappy he/she thinks that he/she is the reason behind your sadness. Growing up in a household where one or both the parents are constantly unhappy leaves a child feeling miserable himself. If you have a situation where you are unhappy and you cannot hide it from your child then make sure that you let him/her know that he/she is not the reason for your sorrows and you will feel better soon. Keep your child in the loop and let him/her know that he/she is important to you. Do not get so absorbed in your own issues so much that you forget your precious one.
Dealing With Stress In Children
Expression: Help your children in expressing themselves. If they feel stressed or worried or anxious, teach them to put into right words and communicate it to you as soon as they feel it. This will help them in releasing the stress rather than keep it in and let it build up.
Recognizing: Acknowledge your kid’s feelings of anxiety or stress when he/she approaches you. Encourage your child when he/she feels down. Never ever take him/her lightly and disapprove of his/her feelings. Your validation can make a lot of difference to your child. Being stressed over something means that your child has already lost a lot of confidence, with your loving and caring attention you can help him/her regain it.
Stress Management: You can teach your kid some stress management techniques. You can introduce some breathing exercises to him/her or perhaps the visualizing therapies. This will help your kid in understand his/her stress and will make him/her self-reliant in dealing with it.
Healthy Lifestyle: Make sure that your kid has a healthy lifestyle. Feed him/her balanced diet and make physical exercise part of his/her daily regime. Make sure that your kid remains active which will help in raising his/her spirits. You can also introduce some sleep time regimes like telling your kid soothing bedtime story every night or playing soothing music to put him/her to sleep. Anything that you think can help him/her releasing his/her stress should be brought into your kid/s life.
Time & Attention: You should spend a good amount of quality time with your kid. Your kid will feel a lot happier and secure if you will take interest in his/her feelings and life. He/she will confide in you and will feel more sheltered. You can play with your kid or do fun and stress releasing activities with him/her. This will make your kid very positive and keep him off feeling worried or unhappy.