Helping Your Child Deal with Stress

Helping Your Child Deal with Stress
Red letters spelling STRESS breaking through a white wallStress.  It’s a big concern for young people as well as adults.  With today’s hectic lifestyles, more children than ever are experiencing signs of stress.  Fortunately, kids are resilient.  They can learn to cope with the stresses in their lives if they are taught coping skills and have dependable emotional support. 

Typical Childhood "Stressors"
Many of the top "stressors" for children are related to school—worries about grades, tests, school work, and problems with teachers.  Children also worry about their family members’ health and well-being.  Other causes of major childhood stress include peer pressure, personal appearance, friendships, money problems, divorcing parents, or a family move.

The signs of stress in children are different from those displayed by adults, so parents need to be alert to these differences.  The following are some signs to watch for in teenagers:

  • Change in sleep habits
  • Chronic irritability or a quick temper
  • Fear of trying new experiences
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Increased sensitivity to complaints
  • Perfectionism
How to Help your Child Cope:
Just as the signs of stress differ according to a person’s age, so do the ways that parents can best help their children cope.  By early school age, children can usually talk about their feats.  Listen empathically and reassure your children that they are safe.

It is important to keep the lines of communication open with your teenager by being available to listen, without preaching.  Model positive communication skills and positive behaviors.  Encourage your teen to maintain proper sleeping and eating habits.  This alone may be enough to eliminate minor stress.  For bigger issues, have an open discussion with your teen and tell him or her how you handled a stressful situation in your life.  This will help normalize the stress that your teen feels, and the honesty can help bring your closer.