How to help your stressed 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 stressStress 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 situationsThe 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.
Signs of stressChildren 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 haverecurrent 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
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....