Parents underestimate the stress their kids undergo. Research has proved more kids are feeling pressure than ever before and they are showing symptoms of this pressure at a younger age. Depending on the child’s age, he or she may express their stress through these various symptoms.
Each toddler under stress reacts differently. Toddlers may become irritable and cry uncontrollably, tremble, or develop eating or sleeping problems. They may regress to infant behaviours, and fear being alone. They may bite or hit, or be sensitive to sudden loud noises. They have nightmares or accidents and cope through tears, tantrums or by withdrawing from unpleasant situations.
These children whine when things do not go their way, are aggressive, challenge adults, try out new behaviours, complain about going to school, have fears and nightmares, and have low attention span.
Symptoms to stress may include withdrawal, being distrustful of family and friends, not attending to school or friendships, and having difficulty expressing their feelings. Children under stress may complain of head or stomachaches, have trouble sleeping, lose appetite, or need to urinate frequently.
Adolescents under stress are rebellious, have pains, skin problems, and sleep disturbances. They may lack self-esteem, and have a general distrust of the world. Sometimes adolescents will show extreme behaviours ranging from doing everything they are asked, to rebelling and breaking all of the rules and taking part in high-risk behaviours. Depression and suicidal tendencies develop.
PROTECTING YOUR CHILDREN FROM STRESS
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from failure, stress and crisis. Children who live in supportive environments and develop a range of coping strategies become more resilient. When a supportive environment is not present children do not learn the right coping strategies.
What do we mean by a supportive environment?
- A healthy relationship with at least one parent or close adult. As a parent, you need to develop in your child a sense of security and trust to build a healthy relationship with your child. Keep open communication routes and it does not have to be verbal.
- Training on emotional intelligence and that means recognizing and naming emotions of one’s self and others and being able to deal with them.
- Well-developed social skills.
- Well-developed problem-solving skills.
- Ability to act independently. Some parents do not know how to show their care and support. In fact the child needs some personal space to express and explore one’s self. Be supportive to what the child chooses ‘to be and do’
- A sense of purpose and future.
- Having choices on coping strategies.
- Positive self-esteem. Communicate expectations clearly so there is no chance for misunderstanding and conflict. One important thing, children appreciate and like when you set limits on behaviour and follow up on them. Setting limits and following up on them gives your child a sense of security. To develop their self esteem, assign the child a chore and make him responsible to do it. Children love the sense of achievement they get out of finishing a chore. The also need a clear identity and sense of self. Give your kids pride in who they are and teach them openness and acceptance of the other.
- Spiritual strength. In fact it is important to commit to relationships, to people, and to humanity at large.
- Teaching your child meditation skills. It helps her clear her mind and think more effectively.
- Having interests and hobbies to pursue.
As parents we have a responsibility to help our children learn how to deal with stress. We do that by modelling that ability to them and developing a positive supportive environment.