How to Help Your Child Handle Stress
By Sandy Schroeder
In a turbulent world, a child’s stress may build quickly, and sometimes go unnoticed, in the midst of daily routines.
If there have been major changes, such as a move, divorce, or job loss that have impacted a child’s life, stress may become a more serious issue. Most children learn to handle a moderate amount of stress and bounce back from normal setbacks, but sometimes too many things happen all at once, or major events trigger new feelings.
If your child seems upset, look for these signs of stress.
- Less self-confidence
- Headaches or stomachaches
- Sleep or appetite changes
- Tendency to worry
- More school absences
- Lack of interest in normal activities
- Change in school effort
If several of these signs turn up, spend some extra time talking with your child to see what might be happening. If the symptoms persist, start with your doctor or pediatrician, and consider seeing a psychologist. At the same time, you can help your child with some simple steps.
Listen to your child – As your child talks about upsetting things, your willingness to listen and understand can help lower stress.
Look for causes – As you talk, you may spot stress triggers, identifying a bully, pressure in sports, or worries about family. Together you can work on solutions.
Support but don’t push – Being there to cheer at the soccer games is great. But don’t get so wrapped up in winning that the child feels bad if there’s a loss.
Give them power – When you can, encourage the child to work out solutions. That can erase some of the powerless feelings kids often have when stress hits.
Get moving – Take time after work to bike to the park, walk the dog, or shoot some hoops. Learning to use exercise to burn off stress is a great lifetime habit.
Create a balance – Look closer to see if meals have been hurried, evenings have been busy, and regular bedtime baths, reading or talking have been swallowed up by other pressures. Make the effort to slow everything down and get back to normal evening routines.
Being there for your kids and worrying about them can be stressful for you, too. Remember to take breaks when you can, and enlist help from others. Children watch everything we do; they quickly pick up on our tensions. The more relaxed and steady we can be, as we help them feel loved and supported, the better everyone will do.
As always, when symptoms persist, see your doctor and get assistance to work through the issues.
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Maple Grove, Minn.