Stress in Children - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
Learn about the stress in children! What are its causes, Sign and Symptoms, Effects and Treatments? As a parent how you can deal it with.
Children suffer from stress even more than adults do, as they are exposed to new and confusing environments constantly. Their sense of self-worth is intimately tied to the expectations posed by the adults around them, such as parents and teachers, but can also be influenced by their peers. If your child’s esteem takes a hit, they will find it challenging to cope with the situation.
Causes of Stress in Kids
There are various stressors children could face in their daily lives. Some of them are:
1. Stress in School
Kids spend half their waking hours at school, where they have to juggle scholastic responsibilities with sports, extracurricular activities and tuitions, leaving them exhausted.
2. Stress Due to Family Issues
Children look at their parents for guidance and support. Stress can be caused by problems at home such as spousal fights and separation, economic issues, corporal punishment, dealing with mental disorders in the caretakers and so on.
3. Stress Due to Environment or Media
It is very common for children to get anxious about the things they see on TV, such as news of disasters, terrorist attacks and so on. Having online lives could lead to cyberbullying by peers or strangers, which can cause severe emotional distress.
4. Other Causes
Children can also get stressed when people around them worry for any reason, be it death, sickness, or finances. Children are very sensitive to their parents’ emotional levels, so if you are anxious they will certainly pick up on it.
Signs of Stress in Kids
It is nearly impossible for young children to express their emotional states to their parents, so it is up to you to identify the signs and symptoms:
1. Physical Symptoms
- Violent overreactions to mild problems, such as crying, screaming and biting.
- Constant sleep problems, such as insomnia, bedwetting, and nightmares.
- A decrease in appetite.
- Complaints of headaches or stomach aches are common.
2. Emotional or Behavioral Symptoms
- Inability to relax, constantly jittery and on edge.
- Developing new fears or a resurgence of past fears.
- Irritable or moody behavior and a general inability to control emotional responses.
- Refusal to go to school, or a friend’s or relative’s home, as their stressors might be located there.
Effects of Stress on a Child
The younger the child, the greater the negative effects of stress on them. Here some ways about how stress affects children:
- Destruction of normal mental growth of the child.
- Negative impact on the child’s ability to function.
- Problems in later life such as eating disorders, anxiety, paranoia, and depression.
- Their immunity takes a hit due to stress hormones, leaving them vulnerable to infections.
Coping with Childhood Stress
Both the parents and Schools are best equipped to identify and provide stress management for children who experience stress.
1. Schools Help
- Help children identify stressors and teach them ways of coping with them.
- Follow a strict policy against punishment, either verbal or physical.
- Recognize instances of bullying and care for the children involved.
- Implement an effective communication portal between parents and teachers.
2. Parents Help
- Try to give your child space where they feel protected and cared for.
- Listen to their problems without berating them or insulting them for not being able to solve it.
- Spend time with them in a fixed routine, which will comfort them.
- Use positive reinforcement to teach them, avoiding punishment entirely.
Also Read - National Depression Screening Day 2019
When to Consult a Doctor?
In many cases, good parenting can help relieve your child’s stress, but sometimes the stressors are too large to be countered at home or school. Consult with your child’s pediatrician if they are:
- Showing signs of withdrawal, depression or unhappiness.
- Displaying excessive emotional outbursts, such as fear or rage.
- Doing badly in school or simply refusing to interact with people.