Just because kids are little doesn’t mean their stress is pint-sized, too. Studies show that stress, anxiety and psychosomatic complaints are increasingly common in today’s children. In fact, stress accounts for a large percentage of physician visits and school absences. Our best advice? BOLO!
Being On the Look Out is the best way to start helping kids manage their stress. And it can be as easy as watching for physical complaints. Anxiety in children often shows up as stomach aches, headaches and difficulty breathing — all of which are common physical responses to stress.
Recognizing and talking about these complaints will help your child understand that these aches and pains can be our bodies’ way of telling us we are stressed or anxious. Validate their feelings, help them become aware of stress in their body, and talk with them to identify their stress trigger(s). (August Blog)
Also be on the lookout for changes in behavior. Atypical aggressive or disruptive behavior, negative self-talk or not wanting to go to school may be clues that the work is too challenging, or your child may be the victim of bullying. Both are huge stressors for a child, and it helps if they feel supported and understood, not judged or at fault.
Watch for opportunities to change your child’s response to stress. Teaching them stress reduction tools and coping strategies help equip kids to respond to stress messages in safe and healthy ways. Self-regulation is a key skill kids need to grow into happy, healthy adults.
Need help? Simply Successful Kids was created specifically to help great parents raise great kids. For info on how we can help, check out our website or contact us at 616-528-0366.
Deb Timmerman is a Registered Nurse, Healing Touch Practitioner and stress management expert. She is passionate about sharing the neuroscience of stress and stress survival skills with kids, teens and adults.