Your day consists of bills to pay, appointments to schedule, activities to attend, and meals to plan. So, when your child mentions that they are feeling stressed, you quietly wonder how that’s even possible. Kids are living a life on easy street with no real responsibilities on their plate. The truth is, stress in children is more common than you think. Before you can help, you need to better understand what that stress entails.
Understanding Stress in Children
You experience stress when trying to meet the demands that others place on your plate. The nature of those demands may be different for your child but the struggle to meet each one is the same. School can be stressful as they work to meet academic demands or maintain a certain social status level within a group of peers. A younger child may find school stressful, as it keeps them away from you for a significant portion of the day. Situation anxiety can become a source of stress for your child.
Being fearful of performing to the best of their ability can create stressful feelings in test-taking situations or public speaking events. Younger children may experience stress when visiting the doctor or dentist. Hearing you talk about family events, such as a divorce or illness, with someone else can be stressful. News stories focusing on natural disasters, school shootings, or other topics may cause worrisome stress over their own personal safety and that of other family members. You may not fully understand the stress your child feels. However, there are things you can do to help.
Providing Stress Relief for Kids
Your first line of defense in helping your child manage stress is working to ensure they’re getting enough sleep. As they sleep, their brain works to process the events of the day so that when they wake, your child feels rested and clear-minded. You also want to avoid packing their day with activities that leave little to no room for downtime. Kids need this time to relax, unwind from the day and enjoy an activity that gives their brain and body a chance to rest. Downtime is also beneficial to mood, health, and well-being.
Help your child learn to recognize when their body needs rest. Doing so allows them to pinpoint when feelings of exhaustion start to occur. Kids can use those signals to slow down or cancel an activity entirely if necessary. You can teach the importance of employing breathing exercises when life starts to feel busier than they think they can handle. You can learn to identify signs of stress in children’s activities from the following list.
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1. Having Nightmares
A nightmare is a way your child’s brain processes the stressful or fearful events of the day. Your child may not understand how to communicate these feelings to you. Older children may want to keep these feelings to themselves for fear of disappointing you or embarrassment. You can try sharing stories of your own nightmares with an older child as a way to validate their feelings or look into more research about how to deal with night terrors.
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2. Experiencing Difficulty in School
Your child may begin to struggle with homework assignments that they once completed with ease. A younger child may share how they play alone on the playground. Each is a sign of situational anxiety that your child may be feeling at school. Work with your child to balance out their daily schedule or have a conversation about why friendships may change. Reach out to a teacher or school administrator to make them aware of the situation. Doing so gives them a better understanding of the challenges your child is facing with schoolwork. Knowing that helps them give your child additional support in the classroom and present a unified front with the supportive work you’re doing at home.
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3. Showing Signs of Aggression
Stress can be a difficult topic for your child to talk about with you. Instead of working to find the words to describe what they are feeling, your child may start hitting, kicking or biting with little or no warning. An older child may engage in a fit of screaming rage before storming off into their room and slamming the door. Remain calm and explain that although they are entitled to how they feel, taking that out on others is never an option. Help them come up with more productive ways to express their feelings.
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4. Withdrawing from Family and Friends
Stress can impact your child’s mental and physical health to the point where they just want to be alone. They may start spending less time with friends or no longer want to participate in family activities that were once enjoyable. A younger child may create an imaginary friend or a puppet as a source of comfort. You want to avoid forcing them to be social. Listen if they want to talk, and work to keep her routine as familiar as possible.
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5. Overreacting to Small Matters
The pressure of meeting the demands on their plate can become overwhelming for your child. They will start taking minor issues in their day, like not being able to find a certain pair of shoes, and turn those things into major, life-altering situations. Younger children may have a temper tantrum or become disobedient on purpose. You can help by working to boost their confidence in facing their challenges.
Stress is something your child will face throughout their life. Be open to providing your child with a homeopathic product, such as Brillia, to help manage stressful feelings. Pairing that with a healthy diet, relaxing bedtime routine and mindfulness tools gives them the tools to cope with stressful situations. You’re working to build the foundation for whatever the future holds.
By giving them the tools to cope with stressful situations now, you’re working to build the foundation for whatever the future holds.
Aprel Phelps Downey is a brand storyteller, author, and writer specializing in small-business marketing services. She holds a bachelor of science in marketing from the University of South Florida. She resides in Eastern Tennessee with her husband and daughter.