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How to help your stressed child

March 19th, 2021
How to help your stressed child
After a year of global pandemic, lockdowns and homeschooling, it is not surprising that stress levels in children in many countries have increased. Many children have faced the worry of sick relatives and family friends and have had to cope with death of their loved ones. How kids cope with stress, usually mirrors how their parents cope with stress and often mum and dad forget to monitor their own stress levels when they are wondering what is wrong with their child.

A small amount of stress does not do a kid any harm and in fact can be beneficial if they learn how to recognise stress and how to cope with it in a beneficial way. Too much stress though, can affect the way they think, feel and act. As parents, it is really good if you can help your child to handle stress in a positive way and importantly, teach them how to relax and de-stress.

Two main types of stress

Stress can be triggered by positive changes in your child’s life such as a house move or change of school. Stress is more commonly linked though, to negative events such as illness, divorce or death.

A variety of stressful situations

The two main parts of your child’s life – home and school can both present them with various stressful situations.

On the home front, children can find it hard to handle a change in routine caused by a parent’s move to a different job or the arrival of a new baby. Parents worrying about money, the mortgage and never-ending bills can soon impact their kid. Illness and divorce are both extremely stressful situations for children and need to be handled carefully.

School can be stressful for many kids – and not just at exam time or changing school. They have to get their homework done, deal with fallouts with friends and juggle schoolwork and sport.
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Signs of stress

Children are very individual in how much stress they can handle and how it affects them. It is important to remember that although what is bothering them could seem trivial, it is obviously making them stressed. No matter how busy you are, always ensure that there is time for your child to share quality time, talk with you and ‘get things off their chest’.

They may well say that nothing is bothering them, but there are often tell-tale signs:

Your child seems anxious and worried

They have recurrent fears of the dark, strangers or similar or have

recurrent nightmares.

Getting clingy when you move out of their sight

Being extra tearful or getting angry very easily.

Your kid is being extra stubborn

They have a decreased appetite

Stomach pains or upset

Bed wetting

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The most important thing to do is to relax and have fun together – no matter how busy you are, always make time for this. It is when you are relaxing that your child is more likely to tell you exactly what is bothering them.

If your child is very stressed, you can open the conversation by describing what you see and asking if there is anything wrong. Listen to what your child has to say patiently, be open in your thoughts and show how much you care about them by making such comments as ‘you must have found that upsetting’. Don’t hurry your child, it could take time for them to explain how they feel and why.

Tell your child that what they are experiencing is ‘stress’ and together, think of ways to tackle/solve the situation. Sometimes, nothing more needs to be done because simply sharing their thoughts and concerns with you is all your child needs.

Encourage your child to limit the impact of the stress and reassure your child that home is always there and always comforting – just like you are....

Chrissie x

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