Anxiety and Stress in Children

Anxiety and Stress in Children 

Anxiety

Children's mental health can be seen in their ability to cope with the world around them. Anxiety is when you don't feel okay; you may feel afraid or worried. It is normal for your child to feel nervous when:

  • It's their first day of school
  • A test is coming up 
  • They have to talk to a lot of people
  • They go to crowded places

Sometimes kids have feelings of worry that are too much for them to handle. You may also feel like you can't help your child on your own. Anxiety can be handled, but if left alone it can go on into the adult years.

Signs of a bigger problem are when they:

  • Have a constant or extreme worry
  • Withdraw from activities
  • Have a hard time sleeping
  • Have physical complaints such as stomach-aches, headaches, and being tired

If you think your child has a problem coping with anxiety, there is help.

Stress

Children suffer from stress too. Stress is the way that our body reacts to different problems and challenges in our lives. Children do not have as much experience handling stress as an adult. Sometimes, small things or events can cause stress in children.

Some possible stressful situations for young children include:

  • A new baby in the family
  • A change in routine or feeling insecure
  • A new school, teacher or bus driver
  • Overstimulation
  • Learning a new skill
  • Making a choice when there are too many choices

Stress can show itself in different ways. Physical signs of stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach-aches
  • Loss or increase in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping and nightmares
  • Emotional changes like anger, sadness, crankiness or whining

 How can you help reduce the stress that your child is feeling?

  • Set a good example of how to deal with stress and be aware of your own stress
  • Be sensitive to your child's feelings
  • Be aware that children may overhear parents discussing or arguing about a problem
  • Discuss issues when you are feeling calm and in control
  • Set limits on the number of organized activities your child does
  • Have steady routines
  • Provide a safe and secure home life

 How to help your child deal with stress:

  • Give them cuddle time.
  • Talk to them in a calm soothing voice.
  • Dim the lights to lower the level of stimulation.
  • Tell your child a story that is close to what your child is going through. Ask them to tell you how the person in the story is feeling. This may help them express what they are feeling.
  • Listen to their feelings first, then choose how you will respond to their behaviour.
  • Have your child draw a picture of their feelings.
  • Have quiet time- reading, making a craft, or a puzzle. Children will often talk about a problem when given the chance.

Remember that children need to learn how to cope with small amounts of stress. As a parent, your job is to show them love, teach them and keep them safe.

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