Amarillo, Texas - Work stresses, busy schedules, finances, relationships, illness, and accidents that happen. When life happens, we all have a natural stress response. Whether it is hearing parents or older siblings talk about stressors in their day or by seeing the local or national news, our kids are taking in a lot of information that can be hard for them to process.
Unless we're paying attention, we might be surprised by how kids internalize stress and worries …and the negative impacts they can have. Stress and worry may be impacting our kids more than we know. Research finds that between 8 and 10 percent of American children and teens are seriously troubled by stress and symptoms.
And stress is also hitting our children at younger ages. If left untreated stress not only affects children's friendships as well as school success but also their physical and emotional well-being.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
1) Home is the model. How you handle worries or fears that you have will be the model for children as well.
2) Be available to talk; show you care. Be prepared for questions, but ask them how they're feeling as well. Ask them about what they think and how that makes them feel. Don't sugar coat things but use some common sense depending on the age of your child.
3) Know your kid's stress signs. These can be physical (headaches, stomachaches), behavior/emotional (change in moods, more/less emotional, trouble concentrating, distracted, difficulty sleeping, etc.)
4) Help identify the feelings. This is key to helping young children better understand how they feel and then how to react to those situations.
5) Help brainstorm solutions. Come up with ideas to help the situation or help put it into perspective.
6) Offer reassurance and comfort. A young child's greatest influence is their parents or primary caregivers so just offering words of understanding and comfort; share your personal experience how you handle scary or worrisome situations and it can go a long way in helping young children feel safe and secure. Stress, worry, and fears can keep our kids from having fun, building strong friendships and succeeding in school so the sooner we notice the signs, the sooner we can get young children back on track.