Just like adults, children also struggle with stress. Excess homework, conflicts in their families and problems with peers are often the stress factors that overwhelm the little ones.
Of course, a certain amount of stress is normal. It’s common to feel stressed about starting school or the prospect of a big test. The key to helping children manage stress involves teaching them to problem solve, plan, and know when to say no to various activities and commitments.
What is childhood stress?
Stress is a word widely used in recent decades and defined as something negative in our lives. But in reality, we cannot live without stress since without it we would not react to danger.
Let’s imagine that we are in the middle of the Amazon and suddenly we find a jaguar. What begins to happen inside us? We begin to activate our body by providing it with activity and energy by accelerating the heart, tensing the muscles and breathing faster. After the stressor has disappeared, the body begins to return to normal. This response helps to survive, confirming that stress is good.
So why do we use stress as something not positive? When this stress reaction lasts a long time or when the threat is no longer in front of us and the symptoms still continue, here we talk about a stress that can negatively affect our health.
stress in children
Haven’t you ever had the desire to want to be children again so you don’t have worries? Well, this desire will not make you stop having stress, since children also have concerns in many aspects of their lives.
Signs of stress in Children
It is not easy to recognize stress but there are indicators that help suspect that we are facing a stress picture:
- Humor changes
- getting wet in bed
- sleep disturbances
- Sadness for no apparent reason
- Concentration problems
- Psychosomatic problems (headache, stomach ache, allergies, eczema, palpitations, etc.)
- Nervous habits and tics (hair tangling, nail biting, thumb sucking, eye movements,…)
- Lack of appetite or compulsive eating
6 Tips to help with managing stress in children
Here are some tips to help your children manage stress successfully.
1 . control overactivity
One of the biggest stressors for children is over-activity. Today children are expected to pay attention and work in the school for several hours, excel in extracurricular activities, come home, finish their homework, and go to bed to do it all over again the next day. But where is the downtime?
Kids need that downtime. Their brains and bodies need to rest, and they can’t figure this out on their own. So knowing if your child is overactive is important in order to make sure there is enough downtime on his schedule.
2. set aside time to play
It is important to carry out activities in which there is no pressure or competition. Younger children often do this naturally. But older children may simply forget how to play. Combining play with physical activity is also essential for well-being.
3 . Make sleep a priority
Sleep is vital for everything from reducing stress to boosting mood or improving school performance. If your child isn’t getting enough sleep, it could be another red flag that he’s too busy. Again, reducing commitments often helps. It is also helpful to emphasize the importance of sleep and creating an environment that facilitates it.
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4. Teach your children to listen to their bodies
Teach your children to understand their own bodies and the physiology of stress. Encourage them to listen to what their bodies are saying. While it’s normal for a child’s stomach to feel jittery on the first day of school, leaving the class with a stomach ache or waking up multiple times with a headache is a sign that there’s too much going on.
5 . manage your own stress
Stress is very contagious. When parents are stressed, kids get stressed too. If you are living in an unstructured environment, your child will notice it immediately. It is important to serve as a model for your children so that they can deal effectively with stress.
6 . Prepare your children to deal with mistakes
A large part of childhood stress comes from the fear of making mistakes. They must be reminded that they are not expected to do everything well. Also, while it is true that making good decisions is an important skill, it is perhaps more important to learn how to bounce back from a bad decision.
It’s easy to stress our kids out by not helping them understand that screwing up is part of the process. It is necessary to help the child to understand the steps to follow after a bad decision.
7. Increase the quality of care for children.
Today we have less time for children, so we must take advantage of these moments to give them our full attention so that they feel understood and protected by us.
8. Teach your child to relax
There are endless relaxation methods that make the child calm down. I recommend a book called: “Attentive and calm as a frog” in which it provides you with tricks to relax the whole family. Relaxation, meditation and yoga are basic disciplines that, if carried out from a very young age, will help them to manage stressful situations better.
9. Teach them to meditate
Instruct the little ones to have calm moments by imagining that they are in calm places like a beach or flying in space. This helps with calming music. Also, teach them how to know how to breathe so that they can extrapolate it in moments of tension.
10. Balanced diet.
Recent research shows that diet is an important factor in reacting to stress. Therefore, we must take into account what we eat regularly.