Children and Stress
Can children get too much stress?
Yes. The signs of too much stress in children are like those in adults. A child may have headaches or stomachaches and not want to go to school. A child who is stressed is less alert and cannot concentrate. He may begin to have more accidents. Since these things can be signs of something other than stress, parents may want to talk to their doctor.
What causes stress in children?
For children, one of the main causes of stress is change. The change may be in a child's surroundings, such as a new school or neighborhood. It could be something in the child himself, like body changes as he grows. Teens are very prone to stress since they face many changes at once. Most changes during childhood cannot be avoided. Children need help dealing with the stress.
How can parents help children avoid too much stress?
Parents can help children avoid too much stress:
- By talking with the child. When parents and children can talk to each other openly, children can handle stress better. The parents can explain what is going on and how they are feeling. The child has a chance to say what is bothering him and ask questions. Children often feel they are to blame for adult problems like money worries or divorce. They need to be told that they are not the cause. Children also feel comforted by the idea that everyone, even a grown-up, feels nervous and scared sometimes.
- By letting the child know he or she is loved no matter what. If parents provide a close and supportive home, children can handle stress better. Children need to know that mistakes are a normal part of growing up. They need to know that their parents will love them in spite of mistakes or setbacks. A child who believes that love only comes when he or she is succeeding or being perfect faces a lot of stress.
- By setting limits for the child and providing discipline. Often, children in our society face adult problems. They are forced to grow up quickly and make adult decisions. These children must deal with a great amount of stress. Parents lower a child's stress level when they set limits and provide discipline. The child who knows what is expected of him or her is more self-assured than a child who is left to handle things alone. More self-confidence means less tension in a child.
- By often taking a look at the child's schedule. Parents can help a child avoid too much stress by making sure the child eats a good diet, gets enough sleep, and exercises every day. Parents may feel a child is under too much stress. They should look at the child's activities to make sure he is not trying to do too much.
- By teaching ways to relax. Children can learn ways to relax such as deep breathing, relaxing their muscles, and picturing themselves relaxing.