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Parents must help kids' handle stress

By unknown | Apr 21, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

When and why do children feel stress?

When and why do children feel stress?

Children feel stress long before they grow up. Many children have to cope with family conflict, divorce, constant changes in schools, neighbourhoods and child care arrangements, peer pressure and even violence in their homes or communities.

The impact of a stressor depends on a child's personality, maturity, and style of coping. It is not always obvious, however, when children are feeling overtaxed. Children often have difficulty describing exactly how they feel. Instead of saying "I feel overwhelmed" they might say "my stomach hurts".

When some children are stressed they cry, become aggressive, talk back or become irritable. Others might behave well but become nervous, fearful or panicky.

Stress can affect children's physical health as well. Asthma, hay fever, migraine headaches and gastrointestinal illnesses such as colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and peptic ulcer can be exacerbated by stressful situations.

What can parents do?

Parents can help their children learn to keep the harmful effects of stress at a minimum.

Parents should monitor their own stress levels. In studies on families who have experienced traumatic circumstances such as earthquakes or war. The best predictor of how well children are coping will be how their parents cope.

Parents need to be particularly aware of when their own stress levels contribute to marital conflict. Frequent fighting between parents is unsettling for children.

Keep communication lines open. Kids feel better about themselves when they have a good relationship with their parents.

Children who do not have close friendships are at risk of developing stress- related difficulties. Parents should encourage friendships by scheduling play dates, sleepovers, and other fun activities.

Parents need to set up daily schedules with their child's temperament in mind.

Though children thrive in familiar, predictable environments with established routines and clear safe boundaries, their tolerance for stimulation varies.

No matter how busy their schedule, children of all ages need time to play and relax. - About Our Kids


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