With the big game or test coming up, now is the perfect time to speak with your child about dealing with stress. All children can experience stress at times. How you address and recognize the things they may be dealing with can make the difference in helping them cope.
What is Stress?
Stress is a condition that can present symptoms of physical or emotional tension. It can be positive or negative and can impact different people in different ways. Children may be dealing with stress without really knowing what is causing it. That’s where parents, siblings, family members and teachers come into the picture.
Be on the lookout for these common reactions to stress, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
• Disbelief, shock, and numbness;
• Feeling sad, frustrated, and helpless;
• Fear and anxiety about the future;
• Feeling guilty;
• Anger, tension, and irritability;
• Difficulty concentrating and making decisions;
• Reduced interest in usual activities;
• Wanting to be alone;
• Sleeping too much or too little;
• Nightmares or bad memories;
• Recurring thoughts of an event;
• Headaches, back pains, and stomach problems; • Increased heart rate, difficulty breathing; and
• Smoking or use of alcohol or drugs.
Communication can be the key to children dealing with stress. Encourage them to share their feelings with you, friends, teachers, doctors or a pastor. Open communication lines can make children feel supported in their feelings and help them realize that there are ways to deal with stress.
The CDC offers these tips — and recommends adults following the same guidelines:
• Eat healthy, well-balanced meals and find time for regular exercise. If you can find friends or family members to exercise with, you can get social benefits out of it, as well.
• Avoid drugs and alcohol because of their long-term impact on stress and the additional problems they can create.
• Take a break if your stress is caused by a national or local event. Don’t become obsessed with the news coverage. Talk about the issues with friends and family members instead and find ways you can help.
• Seek professional help from a psychiatrist or physician. The CDC offers these numbers as resources: Disaster Distress Helpline: (800) 985-5990; National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK; Youth Mental Health Line: (888) 568-1112; Child-Help USA: (800) 422-4453. 3⁄4