Stress has no age limit, including for children. Kids get stressed out while growing up, especially throughout the school year. You can learn to spot the signs of stress, and help your kids cope with the stress in a positive manner. If not, kids will begin to slack in school, their behavior may get worse, they can become introverted, moody, and may even seek negative influences as coping mechanisms. Noticing these signs is the first step to tackling the issue, followed by some tips to problem solve and manage it.
Spot the Signs of Stress
There are a lot of different signs of stress in kids. Irregular behavior from your kids is the main sign that something is wrong. Signs to look for:
- No eye contact
- More meltdowns than normal
- Clingy towards you or towards a comfort item such as a teddy bear or blanket
- Can not focus on tasks
- Introverted or does not want to play with others
- Resisting to go to school
You know your own kid better than anyone, so if they start to act unlike themselves, that should be a sure sign that there is something wrong, or they are dealing with stress.
Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is extremely important for growing kids, especially when they are in school learning. If you do not get enough sleep, your brain cannot grasp the information you learn the next day as well as it would when rested. Lack of sleep will also alter a kids mood, becoming more irritable and uncooperative.
Make Time To Play
All work and no play, makes a dull and sad kid. Riding bikes, throwing a ball around, and just being a kid is important. This helps to have some fun without the added stress of winning a sport, or doing it right.
Teach Coping Mechanisms
Kids will often mimic how their parents deal with stress. At times we are guilty of coming home and lashing out or taking out our stress from work on our kids. It is important to take a step back and talk with your children about why you are upset, but put a positive spin on it and teach them to look at things in a different perspective. Teach your kids different ways to relax. Deep breathing exercises can help, or my favorite- write a daily affirmation, because when you think positive, you remain positive.
As much as kids love to watch TV or be on their tablets, these activities can just increase stress. Try to do more activities as a family or with friends. Something as simple as having a meal together where you can talk and listen is important. Talking about what’s going on can relieve a great amount of stress on it’s own.
Do Not Overschedule
One of the biggest things to stress a kid out is overscheduling and spreading them thin. Kids not only have to pay attention for 7 hours throughout the day in school, but then they have to go to extracurricular activities, then come home to do homework, and then go to bed. It can become too much for a kid. It can become extra hectic when you have multiple kids and are constantly running around. Take the time to allow them to rest at times, and that there is some downtime in their schedule.
Set Achievable Goals
I myself am guilty of this. I set these high expectations for my kids, which in turn puts a lot of pressure on them. The pressure to achieve these unattainable goals will just cause stress and depression when they do not reach it. Learn to set small realistic goals for your kid, and when they achieve it, praise them, and they will gain more confidence and excel academically.
If you do not teach your kids how to deal with stress, they will begin to self-medicate in an unhealthy manner with food, drugs, and alcohol. Life can get hectic with work, school, and after school activities, so at times we can miss the signs. Take some time everyday to talk with your kids, learn what’s going on and build a strong relationship. That way, you can see patterns of stress, reach out, and help destress them.