It happens so often that we as grown-ups have idealized ideas about what childhood should be like. We might forget that children have problems too, and tend to overlook the signs of stress in children and the symptoms they are displaying. Just because we think that they don’t have to worry about such things as bills, jobs, or cleaning and so forth, doesn’t mean there aren’t other things that will cause them stress and angst – bullying, too much on their plate, living in an unsafe neighborhood and so forth.
Children can get stressed due to many reasons and they need an adults help to know what to do and how to deal with it. Always listen and act immediately when a child seems to be under stress or comes to you for help.
As adults, we have developed many coping mechanisms as we have built up the experience to deal with our emotions over the years. Children do not have these yet, that is why they are so quick to upset. It is important that you always show patience towards your child’s behavior, under any circumstance, and that you help them to deal with their difficult situations effectively.
If you’re worried that your child may be suffering from Anxiety, please read AnxietyPanda’s article on recognizing anxiety in children and what to do about it.
Let’s take a look at what signs to look for as well as some tips to help children deal with their stress.
Signs of Stress in Children
Stressed children may exhibit the following physical symptoms:
- Restless Sleep or even Bed Wetting
- Changes in Appetite
Emotional or Psychological Symptoms
A stressed child may exhibit the following psychological symptoms:
- Excessive Sensitivity
- Social Withdrawal
- Aggressiveness or angry outbursts
Your Child is Stressed. What can you do?
It’s tempting for many parents to just do nothing at all. They hope the problem will disappear on its own or that it is just part of growing up and that the child will eventually outgrow it.
If you’re thinking like this – STOP RIGHT THERE!
Stress needs to be dealt and coped with immediately so that it does not become entrenched in your child’s thought or behavior patterns. Children are very impressionable, and how a parent deals with their emotional stresses can have a major impact on their emotional state of wellbeing which will last all the way into adulthood.
Here are some things you can do:
Take the time to really listen and look further than the obvious.
You may ask your child what’s wrong, or why he or she is acting in a certain way, and you may get no answer at all. Or you get an answer like “Nothing”.
Really listening means paying attention to your child’s words and body language even when they don’t know you’re watching.
Remember – it is a good thing to ask your child what is wrong as it shows them you care and love them. Interrogating them, however, or expecting them to be able to verbalize exactly what is happening in their lives and how it is affecting them, is not. Remember, even some adults have trouble with this, so you can imagine that it is even harder for your child!
By expressing empathy, you show your child that you notice them and understand what they’re going through. This is sure to go a long way towards them opening up to you. You will also help your child build vocabulary skills to explain their stressful feelings.
You might say, “I bet it hurts your feelings when people call you names. It hurts mine, too,” and share an experience from your past and how it made you feel. This will make them see that you understand, and they will feel safe to share their feelings with you.
Help Your Child To Be Proactive
You and your child can work together to find solutions to their stress factors. Make lists together of what they could do in certain situations and how they can make it better. If they’ve got too much on their plate, perhaps suggest cutting down on some extra-curricular activities and be sure to let them know that they do not have to excel at EVERYTHING in order to have self-worth and acceptance. They are worth it, just because of who they are!
Lead By Example
When you are around your stressed child, try not to show your own frustrations or stresses. Children often pick up on the moods and behaviors of the surrounding adults and tend to mimic that which they see. If they see you practicing relaxation techniques, they are likely to follow.
It is extremely important that parents tend to their child’s stresses and teach them coping mechanisms and show support in order to prevent a debilitating adult life filled with stress and anxiety. Please always remember that you will never be able to solve all of your child’s problems, but you will be able to provide a stable and safe place for them to deal with what it is that they are going through.
If you would like to read more on what you can do about stress in your child, feel free to visit Psychcentral and read up on their numerous articles, like this one here.
Do you have or know of a stressed child? What are your coping mechanisms? Please let us know in the comment section if you wish to share any advice, tips or experiences on recognizing the signs of stress in children.