6 Signs Of Unresolved Stress In Children And Tips To Reduce It
As adults, we know that stress is an inevitable part of life. Rarely do we consider children dealing with stress because they don’t have to pay bills or work with deadlines at office, right? Unfortunately, children who are meant to be happy, carefree beings also undergo some degree of stress. As parents and caretakers, it is essential to keep an eye out for these 6 warning signs of childhood stress because how they deal with it when they are young helps them to grow into better human beings in their later years.
Bedwetting is fairly common in young children and it is not necessarily a psychological problem. Your child is not wetting the bed because they are lazy to use the bathroom or just to irritate you. Although certain health conditions can cause a child to wet the bed, at some point, it may be caused due to stress or stress could make the bedwetting situation worse. Stress that a child faces could range from exam worries to even serious problems like parental conflicts. Some children do not talk about their worries because parents don’t give enough time. If the problem persists, it is best to have a nonthreatening conversation with them to know if anything is bothering them.
As adults, fatigue is a common impact of dealing with stress. Much the same way, children show physical symptoms like headaches or stomach pain if they are undergoing stress. If your child constantly complains of a stomach ache or visits the school nurse too often, stress may be a possible cause. If you notice an illness pattern just before an exam or a school presentation, your child could be experiencing significant stress. Other physical symptoms include fatigue and chest pain. It is safer to pay a visit to the healthcare provider to know the cause of illness. If the doctor says there is no physical illness, it may be a good idea to have a friendly conversation with your child.
3. Usage Of Specific Words
Children are unaware of the word stress and what impact it can have on their health. So, it is important to observe how your child communicates with you. They express their feelings of distress through other like “worried,” “annoyed,” “angry,” confused,” scared,” and “sad.” Children and teenagers may even express their stress by talking about themselves in a negative light. Statements like “I am not good enough,” “nobody in class likes me,” “I am not important,” are examples of how a child may be dealing with stress either at school or with their friends. As parents, it is essential to hear them out and to observe closely the words they use to describe how they feel.
4. Negative Behaviors
Sometimes, if a child is stressed, they tend to portray negative behaviors like aggression or stubbornness. Common changes can include acting irritable or moody, lacking interest in activities that they found happiness in, regularly expressing worries, complaining more than usual about school, crying, displaying surprising fearful reactions, clinging to a parent or teacher, sleeping too much or too little, or eating too much or too little. Although all negative behaviors are not due to stress, it is an indication that something is wrong. When this happens, don’t be mad at your child. Instead, allow your child to let their emotions out and have a conversation to understand what’s causing the behavior.
5. Tic Disorders
Transient tic disorder is common among children and the condition is often confused with nervous behavior. Children having this disorder tend to make one or many brief, repeated movements or noises, commonly termed as tics. The child may show facial tics or tics that involve the movement of the arms, legs, or other areas, involving the following:
- Clenching the fists
- Jerking the arms
- Raising the eyebrows
- Sticking out the tongue
Some sounds or noises that children with the disorder show include the following:
- Throat clearing
Although the causes of tics are not known, the tics appear to worsen with stress. Doctors usually recommend family members to ignore the tics initially. However, if it disrupts the child’s behavior or activities at school and work, consider paying a visit to the healthcare provider for the necessary treatment.
6. Sleep Disturbances
Usually, children sleep like babies if they have nothing bothering them. However, sleep disturbances, cries at night, and repeated instances of nightmares are all signs that they are not at peace. Sleep disturbances can cause physical and mental strain in adults and they have the same or even a stronger impact on growing children. If you observe that your child is up during night, it is an indication that something is bothering them, which could be an effect of stress. The stress may be caused due to academic, behavioral, developmental and social difficulties, weight abnormalities, and other health problems. Therefore, it is important to know your child’s sleep cycles and if you observe disturbed sleep, find the cause either by talking or observing their behavior in different settings.
Knowing your child is going through a tough time can be overwhelming for any parent. However, you can help your child deal with a stressful situation, whether at home or at school, with these tips.
Tips To Help Children Cope With Stress
Help your child deal with stress in a healthy manner with the following tips:
- Make home a haven: Make home a place where your child can come back from school and relax. Avoid conflicts and arguments in front of them. Keep home a place that children will come back to for their safety.
- Practice family routines: Family routines, like having a family dinner or a movie night together, bring positive feelings to both parents and children and helps keep a strong family bond.
- Be a role model: If you are a working parent and have stress of your own, try to keep it low-key as much as possible. Deal with stress in a positive manner and allow your child to learn how to deal with a difficult situation positively.
- Know your child’s activities: It is important to keep a check on television programs and games that your child is involved with. Violent shows or games can cause feelings of fear or anxiety that may add to their stress.
- Be in contact with school authorities: Being in touch with the school teachers and other authorities will allow a parent to understand behavioral changes and the child’s academic status.
- Inform your child about changes: Keeping your child in the dark about something you may be dealing with is okay. However, all changes that involve your child, like migrating to a new city, should be communicated as early as possible.
- Learn to listen: Listening is the key to communication. Even if the right words are not used, learn to listen and understand and interpret your child’s happy moments and sad ones.
- Build your child’s self-worth: Every child has a unique gift. Whether it be drawing or basketball, use words of encouragement and affection to help them succeed in what they are best at. Use rewards and not punishments to help build their self-worth.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.