Stress seems to be a word that is part and parcel of our modern fast paced world. A world where everyone’s daily schedules are brimming with tasks and duties; including our young children’s. As a result, many young children are showing signs of stress that are negatively affecting them emotionally and physically leaving them feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and even burnt out.
Even though, a small positive effect of COVID-19, for some, has been the break from their daily packed schedules. COVID-19, has however, provided us with a new source of stress where we are still learning to adapt and manage this new source of stress.
Stress is defined as feelings of anxiety, frustration, or anger that a person experiences in dealing with the demands and pressures of life. Stress in children can come from a variety of sources for example, genetic, where some children are born with a nervous personality, whereas some stress can come from environmental factors such as separation, the arrival of a new sibling or starting school. The list is endless and the sources of your child’s stress will be unique to your child. Regardless of where the stress comes from there are ways to help your young child deal with stress.
Although children develop their own way of coping with stress, some good and some bad for example, kicking a ball as hard as they can or having an emotional outburst in the middle of the supermarket. As a parent there are some important things you can do to help reduce your child’s stress levels and teach them healthy coping strategies. Below are some ways to help your child:
- Become aware of your child’s unique characteristics
Every child is different with their own set of unique characteristics. By becoming aware of your child’s unique characteristics, you will become aware of what situations challenge or leave your child feeling stressed. A situation that may challenge or leave one child stressful may leave another excited even at the thought of the situation. Once you know the cause of the stress this will often allow you to do something about the cause of the stress. For example, your child may be stressed about going to a birthday party. By talking through in detail about what will most likely happen at the party you will help reduce your child’s stress levels.
- Help your child express their feelings
Feelings that are held inside without being expressed are a potential source of stress. By helping your child learn to express feelings such as anger through various outlets you are helping them alleviate their stress. Thus, enabling them to develop and learn coping strategies to deal with their stress. Examples of outlets of expression can include talking to your child about their anger, providing art materials to allow them to scribble or by playing outdoors e.g running. Overtime, you will become more aware of what helps your child relax and overcome their stress.
An overlooked important source of stress relief is humour. Humour is scientifically proven to be an effective coping strategy to deal with stress. It reduces your child’s stress levels, eases tension, improves their mood and builds resilience. Share a laugh with your child, make jokes, tell funny stories, play games and most importantly have fun. By doing this you are teaching your child to use humour as a fun healthy way to cope with stress. After all, laughter is the best medicine!
By applying these suggestions you are not only helping to reduce your child’s stress levels but you are also teaching your child specific ways to effectively cope with stress. As children do what you do rather than do what you say it is important you can manage the stress in your own life, not only will you be better able to help your child deal with their stress but you are also modelling healthy coping strategies for your child to follow. These skills are important life skills to learn. There will always will be stress in your child’s life but you are also showing your child there will always be healthy ways to successfully manage stress in their lives.
Above is a snapshot of the ways you can help your preschool child deal with stress. More information is available on this topic in Issue 60 of the Growing Child Magazine. The Magazine is available in electronic format and in hard copy. Both available to buy from our online shop. Issue One is available free to everyone and will give you a wonderful insight into to the world of parenting and young children from day one – hope you enjoy!