The emotion of stress is one that’s virtually unavoidable. It’s a part of the human experience; sometimes, it’s even linked to situations that are otherwise positive. Learning to manage stress, process it, and cope in healthy ways is something that’s learned through experience. Taking time to focus more deeply on how we can reduce the impact of stress is a timely prospect, as World Mental Health Day takes place on October 10, encouraging all of us to educate ourselves on the far-reaching impact of mental health and the significance of mental healthcare in our communities.
For children, who don’t yet have a lifetime’s worth of experience and coping skills, dealing with stress can be especially difficult. When stressors at school or home become overwhelming, they may experience changes in mood and behavior, be less interested in playing or engaging in former hobbies, stop focusing on their studies and extracurriculars, and may even to turn to unhealthy habits such as drugs or alcohol to deal with their feelings. It’s important that both parents and educators know how to spot these signs and what they can do to help children manage their stress effectively.
Helping Kids Feel Less Stressed
- If you know something big is going on, talk about it: If there are big changes, major events, or ongoing stressors in a child’s life, make a point to check in with them regularly, having an ongoing dialogue. Let them know it’s okay to share their thoughts and feelings with you without prompting.
- If you can help, do so: If there are obvious stress triggers or situations in a child’s life where you can assist or intervene, do so, especially if the stress is toxic rather than typical or tolerable. For normal stressors, help children to develop coping skills like patience and self-care.
- Use acceptance, reassurance, and support: Help kids feel better about stressful situations by accepting them as they are, reassuring them that you’re there for them, and acting in ways that tangibly support their needs and reduce their stress.
The impact of childhood stress can be significant, and adult intervention can play an important role in helping children to cope in healthy ways. Take a look at this infographic from We The Parents for helpful tips on sources, signs, and remedies for stress in children.