People of all ages experience stress – even children. Stress can be caused by positive changes, such as starting a new activity or preparing for a test, and negative changes, such as illness, pain or loss of a loved one. In small quantities stress is tolerable, but in excess stress can interfere with life, activities and health.
Many stresses children experience may seem insignificant to adults but are a big deal to children. Watch for these signs that your child may be showing symptoms of stress:
- Changes in behavior – Short-term behavioral changes such as mood swings, acting out and changes in sleep patterns may indicate that your child is stressed.
- Physical symptoms – Frequent stomach pains, headaches and decreased appetite are a few signs your child may be excessively stressed.
How can you help? Pay attention to your child’s behavior, make time for your child each day and follow some of these tips:
- Talk, Talk, Talk – Help your child cope with stress by encouraging them to express their emotions. Validate their feelings and discuss potential causes of stress to find solutions.
- Prepare them for situations and events – Keep your child informed of anticipated changes and potential stressful situations. This is comforting because it helps them know what to expect.
- Give your child control – Provide your child opportunities to make choices and have control. The more control an individual feels they have over a situation, the better they can respond to stress.
- Find balance between fun and overwhelming – Kids can easily be overwhelmed by all the activities they are involved in. Cut-back activities, enjoy quiet time and make yourself available for your child.
Sources: American Psychological Association and KidsHealth NOTE: This information should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition. Call 612-871-1454 to learn more about Washburn Center’s mental health services for children.