Stress is commonly known as a bad or uncomfortable feeling experienced by a person. While this is half true, stress can also bring out the good in people and push them to achieve their goals. As much as adults stress out about different things like money, jobs, taking care of a family, and many more, kids also do stress out.
There are various factors on why a child would have both good and bad stress. Though the good stress makes them work harder to achieve the desired goal and do well, too much stress can also ruin them physically, mentally & emotionally. This could include living in a dysfunctional family where there is always tension between the family members, stress to achieve academic goals, relationships with peers, etc. These factors can hamper the child’s overall well-being.
Let’s discuss this in detail:
When is Stress Helpful?
A little bit of stress is beneficial for a child. This helps them work harder toward their goals and put more effort into their work. A little pressure can also build resilience in a child. And they will learn to face challenges and skills like problem-solving.
When is Stress Harmful?
Too much adversity or stress can affect a child’s overall development. Stress can be harmful if the child is not able to cope or doesn’t have the support that they need. Kids need to take constant breaks from stress, or they could get overwhelmed and lose the capability to cope with anything.
Types of Stress
There are different kinds of stress experienced by kids, and each kind affects differently on their overall emotional, physical, and mental growth. Let’s discuss the types of stress below.
1. Positive Stress
Positive stress is a feeling of stress for a short period when a child or teenager faces a challenge. This kind of stress is more like a prompt to do well or keep focused on achieving a particular goal. Children can also feel this kind of stress when they are about to try something new.
Here are a few examples:
Children feel this stress before giving a test, an exam, a competition, a big game, or even a speech or recital.
2. Life Event Stress
Life Event Stress occurs when kids face adversities in their lives. This could include having accidents, the death of a loved one, making new friends or moving to a new neighborhood, etc. Such events can cause stress where the child takes a few days to a few weeks to adjust to their surroundings.
There are even good life stress events like having a pool party or birthday parties because you are excited and want things to go perfectly.
3. Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is manifested from Life Event Stress. Stress that lasts for more than a few weeks after facing a life challenge and adversities can lead to chronic stress. It can impact the child in various ways. If the child can’t break from the constant stress, this can lead to the incapability of coping, thus, hampering their mental health and draining them physically and emotionally.
4. Traumatic Stress
This kind of stress comes with trauma experienced by the child. Trauma can include sudden and severe injuries from accidents, domestic abuse, or violence.
Traumatic stress is one of the worst stresses a child can experience because children with this stress act out quite differently and have major problems with coping. It can affect them academically, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and they have problems maintaining relationships with family members and peers.
Signs of Stress
Here are a few signs to look out for when your child is stressed out.
1. Behaviour Changes
When your child is stressed, you may notice a few behavior changes in your child, such as acting out or wanting to be confined to their rooms, when they are active and calm kids by nature.
2. Anger or Irritability
Over time you may see that your child develops a behavior of being argumentative or short-tempered and tend to get irritated for the smallest of the smallest things. They may even behave rudely or be ignorant of a few situations.
3. Trouble in Sleeping
Children or teens with stress sleep less and wake up tired. And even though exhausted, they have trouble falling asleep at night. Overall, they are tired most of the day, and because of the lack of sleep, they tend to lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy.
4. Avoiding Responsibilities
If you see your kid falling back on chores, homework, or any other responsibility given to them, there is a chance that they are stressed out and should talk about what is bothering them.
5. Changes in Appetite
When a child is stressed out, there is a decrease in their appetite that gradually happens. Your kid who once had a healthy appetite will slowly start decreasing the amount of food; he eats to eating nothing and skipping meals. This can physically cause a problem because your teen is not eating the proper nutrients they need.
6. Falling Sick
You may see a change in their immunity system and complain about headaches or stomach aches and feeling weak or sick all the time. If you find that your child is frequently visiting the nurse’s office and skipping school, you may want to talk to your child. They will need all the support they can get.
Parental Involvement and Stress Management
Apart from being stressed, there are various ways to deal with this stress, which is called Stress Management. Stress Management consists of strategies to help your child cope with difficulties and challenges. Here are a few below:
Talking helps a lot to get things out of a person’s mind. Kids need a good listener to listen to them and understand their problems. Kids also begin to trust their parents by opening up about themselves, resulting in having healthy conversations about their problems and discussing solutions for these issues. Parents can talk to their children and make them feel better about themselves.
Going Out and Leisure Activities
Motivate your teen to go out of the house, meet their friends or do something fun. Letting them coop themselves in their room will not help them break from their stress. Let them get some fresh air and have a healthy focus on themselves. Also, try getting your teen to do some leisure activities, especially things they liked doing before, and some fitness. Indulging your kids in some leisure activities will build a trusting bond between the two of you, and the child will also feel comfortable having you around.
Get your teen to practice mindfulness techniques like meditation or get them into mindfulness training courses to help them cope with challenges. You can also practice these techniques with them and monitor how they are doing.
Journaling helps in reducing stress because you get to write down your thoughts and feelings that are bothering you. Journaling can reduce mental distress and help keep their mental health in check. You can buy a journal for your kid and encourage them to start journaling and respect their privacy by not reading it.
As they say, too much of anything is good for nothing. Similarly, high-stress levels experienced by children are a detriment to their overall development and growth. Immediate attention and assistance should be given to kids facing extreme stress to prevent emotional and mental damage in the long run. Parents can involve themselves in activities and techniques to help their children deal with stress, learn coping skills, and improve their mental health. Giving support or being there for your children in their time of need makes a lot of difference in their healing process.
What are the three main signs of stress?
Three major signs of stress to look out for are Irritability, Behavior changes, and Anger.
What are the five types of coping strategies?
There are five types of coping strategies: problem-focused, emotion-focused, social support, religious, and meaning-making.
What are the causes of poor coping?
There are various causes of poor coping, usually rooted in denial, blame, guilt, abuse, and trauma. These factors are the primary reasons for poor coping.