What is Stress
Everyone has stress in their lives. Stress is a normal reaction to situation or event. This reaction is known as our stress response. We would not be motivated and function properly with out some form of stress in our life. However, if the level of stress we are under outweighs our ability to cope then stress becomes a problem, we become overstressed. Often people refer to it as “stressed out”.
Stress affects everybody in a different way, especially children. Our children need enough skills to be able to cope with the stress in their lives. Often we dismiss stress in children as another childhood ailment such as; they must be overtired, they must have a cold coming on, they are going through a growth spurt when in fact they may be stressed. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 5 children suffer from some form of anxiety or stress related disorder. We now know that stress can lead to the onset of disease in the body. Many children are living in under constant states of stress and anxiety without realizing it. Our stress response system is self-regulating and is designed for short periods of stress, not continuous, prolonged stress.
The body also has a relaxation response to counteract the affects of the stress response. The relaxation response decreases adrenalin levels and returns the body system to a balanced state. Blood pressure and breathing rates decrease, muscles relax and digestion resumes. Our children need to be taught how to turn their “relaxation response” back on.
What Causes Stress in Children
There are many different sources of stress in children. Some of the more common ones are; Exams/homework, Problems with School work, Peer problems, Bullying, Starting at a New School, Too many Responsibilities, Parents and Family, Rapid Social Change, Developmental Changes, Over Stimulation, Major events going on in the world , Sedentary Lifestyles, Separation & Divorce…
Symptoms of Stress in Children
When a child is stressed they may exhibit both physical and emotional symptoms.
Some of the Physical Symptoms are:
- Feeling sick
- Stomach pain
- Sore muscles
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Inability to sleep
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased heart rate
Some of the Emotional Symptoms are:
- Sadness, crying
- Aggression, irritability and anger
- Lacking confidence
How to Help Children Deal with Stress
There are many ways of dealing with stress. Recognising that your child is under stress is a great start. Here are some of the ways you can help your child deal with stress:
- Relaxation/Calming Techniques
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Breathing Techniques
- A Good Nights Sleep
- A Healthy Diet
- Positive Talk-Affirmations
- Balance and Time to “Just be a Kid”
- Quiet Time
- Give them a Hug
Our blog is constantly being updated with information, activities and tips on how to dealing with children stress is using all the methods above and many more.