Stress in Children – How To Overcome It?

“Life is a marathon race. The parents need to train their children to accept failure as a part of life. A child may not be a good sportsperson but he/she may develop an aptitude for something better in life. A child should be allowed to develop a good temperament so that he is prepared to become successful in future,” says Rajdeep Sawant, a psychologist.


Myth of Parents
Sources of Stress
Signs and Symptoms
Reducing Stress
How can parents help their kids cope with stress?

 

Myth of Parents
Not only In Mumbai but everywhere children are demanded to perform beyond their capacities, be it academics or personal life. Whether your child is improving as a person or whether he is able to cope up with the tremendous pressure put on him? Unfortunately kids are not taught any skills through which they can grow up with their natural talent. The good news is that every child has inbuilt talent and can do incredibly good.

We always assume that children are happy and carefree always. It’s obvious that they don’t have responsibilities of an adult, like going for a job or bills to pay. So what could they possibly have to worry about?

The fact is that very young children have worries, show anxieties and feel stress to some degree. Childhood stress can present with a large number of physical and emotional signs and symptoms. It usually occurs when they have to deal with situation that requires changing and adapting. Children can experience stress early in their lives and can cope in different ways.

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Sources of Stress
What is stress? It is a function of the demands placed on us and our ability to meet them. These demands often come from outside sources, such as family, jobs, friends, or school. But it also can come from within, often related to what we think we should be doing versus what we’re actually able to do.

Stress in schools – There is a lot of pressure on students today to perform at school, and there seem to be even more pressure within the peer group. Moreover many kids go for tuitions adding extra study burden. The increase in the amount of homework, projects, fear of failure, worrying about fitting in, self-identity etc. are some of the more common reasons for stress in schools.

Stress in the family – There are many issues within a family unit that can cause stress in children, for example, parental separation, financial problems, parental stress, coping with parents who have a mental illness and unreasonably high family expectations being placed on children.

Extra Activities – Many kids are too busy to have time to play creatively or relax after school. Many of them also go for tuitions. Kids who complain about all their activities or who refuse to go to them might be overscheduled. Talk with your kids about how they feel about extracurricular activities. If they complain, discuss the pros and cons of stopping one activity. If stopping isn’t an option, explore ways to help manage your child’s time and responsibilities to lessen the anxiety.

Also realize that some things that aren’t a big deal to adults can cause significant stress for kids. Let your kids know that you understand they’re stressed and don’t dismiss their feelings as inappropriate.

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Signs and Symptoms
While it’s not always easy to recognize when kids are stressed out, short-term behavioral changes mentioned below can be indications:

  • mood swings,
  • acting out,
  • changes in sleep patterns,
  • or bedwetting
  • Some kids have physical effects, including stomachaches and headaches.
  • have trouble concentrating or completing schoolwork.
  • become withdrawn or spend a lot of time alone.
  • Younger children may pick up new habits like thumb sucking, hair twirling, or nose picking
  • older kids may begin to lie, bully, or defy authority.
  • overreact to minor problems, have nightmares, become clingy, or have drastic changes in academic performance.

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Reducing Stress
How can you help kids cope with stress? Proper rest and good nutrition can boost coping skills, as can good parenting. Make time for your kids each day. Sometimes kids just feel better when you spend time with them on fun activities.Even as kids get older, quality time is important

Remember that some level of stress is normal; let your kids know that it’s OK to feel angry, scared, lonely, or anxious and that other people share those feelings. Reassurance is important, so remind them that you’re confident that they can handle the situation.

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How can parents help their kids cope with stress?
It is important for parents to teach kids to recognise and express their emotions, and to use healthy ways to cope with the stress they experience. Parents can:

  • be a good listener and encourage them to talk about their feelings and worries.
  • it is possible that we as a parents over react on kids. This is because sometimes we ourselves are stressed out. So try to control your emotions.
  • encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits
  • avoid being critical and negative towards their children
  • show active involvement and interest in their studies, activities and hobbies. Do participate when possible
    manage their own stress and be a positive role model
  • avoid over-scheduling children and allow them free time to play, read, listen to music or just ‘veg–out’
  • help build children’s sense of self-worth by recognising their achievements and avoid placing unrealistic expectations on them
  • seek professional help if signs of stress do not decrease.

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