Stress is a response to any situation or factor that creates a negative emotional or physical change or both. People of all ages can experience stress. In small quantities, stress is good — it can motivate you and help you be more productive. However, excessive stress can interfere with life, activities, and health. Stress can affect the way people think, act, and feel.
Children learn how to respond to stress by what they have seen and experienced in the past. Most stresses experienced by children may seem insignificant to adults, but because children have few previous experiences from which to learn, even situations that require small changes can have enormous impact on a child’s feelings of safety and security.
Stress researchers now believe that the greatest risk for many children is the wear and tear of the way we live, which makes all of us more vulnerable to dangers from depression to obesity to substance abuse.
The American Psychological Association’s annual stress survey has concluded that teens and younger children are as stressed as adults in our culture. In a stressful society, everything is hyper: hyper-stimulated, hyper-materialistic, hyper-sexed, hyper-competitive, hyper-busy. No wonder we are all so anxious so much of the time.
Kids suffer from the same hyper-scheduling as adults, but it’s made even more challenging by their immature emotional and intellectual development.
Children perceive themselves as powerless, at the mercy of parents, peers, school, and schedules. They may struggle with pressures that most of us didn’t:
More homework – never ending peer pressure – being constantly plugged-in – not have enough downtime, to be bored and allow their minds to relax.
A few ideas to help your child deal with stress
Encourage your child’s passions – try to remind your child of the creative things they may have enjoyed in the past (cooking, walking, drawing, sewing, knitting…) try to get them to unplug themselves for a half hour over the weekend to rekindle this passion. Remind them of the feelings they get when they do something they love to do.
Slow down – Be aware of slowing down the pace in your family home. Take time to talk, to relax, and chill out with each other. Teach your child it is ok to relax. It is ok to have ‘nothing’ to do.
Be aware of ‘over-scheduling’ – what do your children like to do and what do you want them to do? There is a difference. Come to a realistic schedule that you can both deal with, without being totally stressed out. Pastimes are supposed to be ways children can relax, make friends, unplug.
Listen – take time in your day to listen to them. Even though it is not always easy, the importance of listening to children is very often underestimated. By active listening (not giving solutions, not jumping in half way through) children feel secure, they feel they are important, they learn to believe that their opinions matter. They know that if they need to, they always have someone to turn to.
Laugh – laugh out loud, paly games, play practical jokes –
“Laughter is the medicine of life”.
Stay Connected – Children do enjoy spending time with their parents. They may not always admit it, but it is something I have found with a high percentage of children. When you spend time with your child you are telling them;
They are very important to you
You really enjoy their company
You WANT to spend time with them
Taking time out to really think about your parenting objectives/beliefs is one of the most important things you will every do. You cannot go back in time. Take the time to be the parent you want to be. Do not let the stress of over scheduling, peer pressure, work pressure, financial pressure get in your way.
“There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one.”
“Kids are like a mirror, what they see and hear they do. Be a good reflection for them.”’
“As your kids grow they may forget what you said, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.”Share Blog