Childhood Stress

We’ve all felt the relief of getting home after a stressful day.  As adults, most of us have developed our own coping mechanisms for getting through the day.  We know what strains our brains in the worst ways and we know how to handle it.  For children, especially the very young, dealing with stress can be a much more difficult task. 

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The world is operating at high-speed these days.  Progress bars time our advancement down to the second.  We spend all day intaking and processing a million info bites, in addition to all the necessary information we need to accomplish our day-to-day tasks.  Children are absorbing more information than would have been possible for any previous generation. 

In addition to this, the demands we place on them are higher.  School requirements, social engagements, extracurriculars--these things add up and up and leave many children with too little time to relax.  Coupled with the common lifestyle stressors that come from problems in the household, stressful entertainment choices, and even the state of the world absorbed from a thousand news sources by sponge-like minds, these internal struggles can be a great weight on a young child. 

Most children (and too many adults) have not developed all the tools they will need to deal with stress appropriately.  It can lead to behavioral issues and mood swings.  It can cause changes in sleeping patterns.  It can build to serious anxiety and depression.  Some children may exhibit physical symptoms, such as bed-wetting, headaches, and belly aches. 

Parents who fear that their children are succumbing to an overabundance of stress should discuss this with the child.  Are the external demands being placed on the child too much?  Listen to these children if they tell you something is too much.  Help them learn to communicate and develop the language necessary to discuss their feelings.  Figure out a better time-management plan and determine what things would best be dropped from their to-do list.

It is difficult to keep track of everything that is affecting our children these days.  So many avenues for influence exist, we can’t possibly know what all is on their minds.  The best way to learn is to ask.  Talk to your kids, learn what is troubling them, pay attention to what they need, and do all you can to help them through it.   After all, they can’t do everything for themselves (no matter what they may tell you).