15 Mar Help Your Child Stress Less
Life can get stressful. As adults, it’s easy to feel the weight of responsibilities like providing for and caring for a family, working a full-time job, and keeping up with the hustle and bustle of daily life.
However, we sometimes forget that kids get stressed out, too. They may not be working full-time or providing for a family, but the stress that they feel is very real. For kids, sources of stress may be peer pressure, school, college applications, home life, friends, or lots of other things.
What It Looks Like
Stress manifests itself differently depending on the situation and the child. Healthchildren.org explains that “how a child perceives and responds to stress depends in part on development, in part on experience, and in part on a child’s individual temperament.” A younger child who’s stressed out might be more irritable, throw temper tantrums, show signs of regression, or have body aches and fatigue. For teenagers and older children, stress looks similar to how it looks in adults. They may act out, be exhausted, have a vague symptom like abdominal pain, or be more irritable.
How Can You Help Them?
Help them develop coping strategies. The more positive coping strategies that your child knows, the more likely they’ll use one of those strategies when times get tough. When your child is younger, you don’t need to explain how the coping strategy is affecting their body, but still teach them the coping strategy. You can explain the strategy’s affect on the body when your child is a little older (but don’t wait until they’re a teenager).
Model positive coping strategies and take care of yourself. There are a few reasons why this is possibly one of the best things you can do to help your child cope with stress.
For one thing, taking care of yourself helps your child know that you’re okay. This is one of the biggest ways you can help them regain their security, since stress (especially for younger children) can stem from not feeling safe or secure. If your child sees that you’re stressing out, it might add to their stress. If your child sees that you’re doing okay, it can help them stabilize their own emotions.
For another thing, modeling positive strategies is especially helpful when your child hits their teenage years. Your children will notice how you cope with stress, and odds are, they’ll adopt those strategies themselves. After a hard day, do you exercise to blow off some steam? Or do you head to the fridge and grab a beer? Give them simple explanations for why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Positive Coping Strategies
These will look different depending on the age of the child.
For younger children:
- Finger painting
- Blowing bubbles
For older children:
- Listening to music
- Talking it out with family or friends
- Yoga or meditation
- Breathing exercises
- Sports or exercise (this is a great way to cope with stress, but sometimes it can be a source of stress)
For more information on the web, visit healthychildren.org or check out this guide for teenagers on dealing with stress. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your child and stress, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.