Stress!! It affects kids of all ages! Kids can be stressed by fears of monsters under the bed or in the closet…changes in their day to day routine or family, such as new sibling or mommy’s new job…transitions, such as from middle school to high school or a move to a new home.
Parents can help their child manage stress. The lines of communication should be kept open by including your children in family discussions and take note of any changes they mention in friends, activities, and school work.
Parents should be aware that some symptoms of stress in kids are physical. Young children struggle to communicate their feelings directly and may display stress differently than an older child or adult. Their stress can be expressed through physical symptoms that have no medical basis; such as frequent stomaches, headaches, flu-like symptoms, and even complaints about leg or arm pain. Children under stress may even show a developmental regression to bedwetting and separation anxiety.
Some ways for kids to relieve stress are:
Breathe Deeply…Yes, taking slow deep breaths really does lower stress. Encourage small children to learn deep breathing via use of blowing bubbles. It’s both fun and decreases stress!
Take Action…Get your kids outside! Run, jump, skip, dance, kick a soccer ball, shoot a basketball. Encourage your kids to stretch and move their muscles. If your child is in an environment where he cant move around immediately, they can squeeze playdough, or clay to relieve stress.
Draw and Color It Out…Your child can draw a picture or color in a coloring book. Art is a fabulous medium for pouring out feelings.
Relax & Chill…Make sure your kids are getting enough rest. Recent research shows that children actually benefit from more sleep than we originally thought. Pay close attention to the amount of sleep and down time that works best for your child. Your teenager may benefit from a more structured relaxation routine, such as a weekly or twice a week yoga class. Yoga is great for learning relaxation and stretching techniques that have high stress relieving effects.
Writing…Encourage your child to keep a journal or diary. Writing can be short or long, the focus should be on the expression of emotions. Similar to adults, journaling can help kids clarify thoughts, feelings and expectations. This often leads to the release of stress.
Don’t forget to Talk about it…Once you identify the source of stress for your child, encourage your child to share their feelings and help them make an action plan to cope with the stress. If the stress is having an overwhelming or long lasting impact on your child, she may need a psychologist to help her build effective coping skills and express feelings.