While you may think childhood was a carefree period of your life, the same thing does not hold true for children nowadays. Stress is a condition everybody suffers, be it adults or children. If we talk about children, they will need external help to deal with and manage their stress as they may not even know they are going through any problem.
As cliche as it may sound, your child is your joy and responsibility as well. You are the first person who can recognize if your child is troubled, anxious or going through some stress.
Let me get you started with a few key pointers to detect if your child is under stress.
Kids who are under stress often have trouble with their mood and behavior. You may notice slight changes like unnecessary tantrums, crying, health issues or getting irritated easily.
Further, the child may withdraw from their favorite activities like playing or going outside. Most often, such kids complain of irregular headaches or stomach ache and have a sudden change in their sleeping and eating pattern.
Also, you may notice these kids refusing to go to school and indulging in self-negative talk. That being said, you must remember every child is different and may show other signs of stress. As a parent, it is your duty to help your child out and let them know that it’s okay.
Now, let me share the few things that as a parent can help you handle the situation and teach your kid to manage stress and reduce anxiety in them.
If your child is under stress due to a situation that is fearsome for them, it is time to teach them how to face it. The fear of getting in an anxiety provoking situation can further increase the anxiety in your child. However, if you let them know how they can go “one step at a time”, their fears will variably reduce and the anxiety that kicks in will stop as well.
If you can’t take larger steps, it’s okay. Just take baby steps. Remember each step counts when it is taken in the right direction.
Be your child’s best friend and confidante. Listen to them carefully and attentively. Ask them what’s bothering them. You may feel that your child doesn’t want to open up. But sadly, it is farther from the truth.
Most often, children can’t put a label to what they are feeling. This is a time when you can step in and talk to them. Initiate a conversation. Say something like, “ It seems like you’re sad about what happened in the school.” or “how are you feeling today?”. Try emoticons like a happy face, sad face, joyful, and more. Let them identify their emotions and connect with it.
Make it a free flowing conversation and let your child share his concerns and problems.
It is important to hear them out without any blames, anger, or judgement. When you’ll listen to them, be patient. Let them speak. They’ll know there is someone they can talk to and it’ll help them cope with their stress more easily.
Stressed or anxious children can often indulge in negative and self-critical talks. This thinking can slowly creep in every aspect of their life and lead to low-self esteem. Your voice becomes their inner voice. You can save your child by teaching him to see the silver lining under the dark cloud. Also, remember your child does what he sees you doing.
You’re the biggest role model for your child. Before you preach, practice it yourself. Never worry that he is not taking your command, worry that he is watching and observing your actions. Handle your stress in an ideal way and encourage your child to adopt positive thinking as well. You’ll be surprised how small changes will reflect immensely in your child’s life.
Your body talks to you. The slight changes can help you detect if you’re overworking yourself or following a good routine. Similarly, your child’s body goes through the same process.
Educate your child to understand their bodies and the physiology of the stress. Tell them how the butterflies they feel in their stomach on the first day of their new class is okay. However, consistent tummy aches or headaches are a sign that something is not right. It means the child is undergoing some stress.
These health issues like nausea, muscle pain, low energy and repetitive complains are strong symptoms that your child is under stress. Just pay attention and never ignore such signs.
School exams, co-curricular activities, home tuitions, sports. These are just few of the activities that today’s children have to do in a single day. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Nowadays, even play (Read: Sports) have become a serious competition for kids and less of a stress buster. I’d suggest you to engage your child in relaxing activities like art or sketching. Just ask them to free draw anything they like with their fingers, if you can.
P.S. It’ll also help you analyze what’s going in your child’s mind by taking their color choices into consideration. For instance, picking a lot of darker shades is often considered a sign of aggression. You can check the color psychology guides for further analysis of your child behavior.
Further, this “ART THERAPY” can help your child unveil their deep-rooted emotions and thoughts at the sub-conscious level. Some children also feel relaxed when they write out their emotions or dance, for instance.
Help your child figure out what they love and you’ll see a great change in their stress management and life as well.
No one is perfect. Now that’s a fact. While everybody around us is aiming for perfection, children often feel stressed or anxiety when they underperform or get bad grades. Tell them it’s okay to mess up and just fine. Share your failed experiences and what you learnt from them.
It’s okay to mess up. Everyone does that. The best part is when you keep going even after a failure. That’s what’s important.
There are just a few more things you can practice with your child to reduce their stress and anxiety issues.
As Dr. Pooja Anand Sharma (Psychologist) said, “You love your child and they know it. However, this busy life doesn’t let you shower them with love and attention as much as you want. Don’t feel any guilt over it. Children nowadays are intelligent. They understand if you explain your situation with right words and love. Kids today also prefer quality time over quantity. Give your child time of love, care, and undivided attention (mobile phone or laptop). Never forget to maintain eye contact and a loving touch. Play, relax or just listen”.
This one hour of quality time will bring your child closer to you and away from any stress or anxiety. If you still feel confused with the behavior of your child, that’s okay. Just ask an expert or a child psychologist who can get your child out of the situation and help you with better parenting tips.
I hope this post was helpful for you and your child. Remember, your child needs you and sometimes just being there is enough. If you’d like more help or guidance, feel free to ask and we’ll reach out to you.