Childhood stress can be present in any setting that requires the child to adapt or change. This stress may be a response to a negative change in a child’s life. In small amounts, stress can be good. But, excessive stress can affect the way a child thinks, acts, and feels. Your child may not recognise that it is the stress that’s causing behavioural changes, which might lead to confusion and even more stress. So, how can you help your child with stress successfully?
Stress is a normal part of life. But if a child is under too much stress then it can affect their psycho-social-emotional-physical balance. Stress in children manifests differently from that in adults. Some of the signs and symptoms of excessive stress in children are as follows: – Irritability and anger: Children don’t always have the words to express what they are feeling and hence it may get channelised as increased irritability and anger. – Changes in behaviour: A child who was once calm starts acting out, a young child who was toilet trained starts wetting his clothes, a teenager who liked stepping out suddenly does not want to leave the house. All these behavioural changes indicate higher stress levels.
Doing activities that the child likes may actually help a child cope with stress. What is important is to not overburden the child and to help the child take things at his/her own pace. Recognising that a child is feeling stressed is important in taking care of their mental health.
Online education is tough. It is tough for children and it is tough for parents. What effects this modality may have in the long run is yet to be ascertained. However, one can minimise the obvious effects by giving requisite breaks, helping children manage their screen time and helping them cope with the new normal of online education.
Children mirror their parents’ emotions. Very often, parents transfer their anxieties onto their children. For example, a parent who has been an overachiever may put undue pressure on the child to succeed in academics or a health-conscious parent may project this onto their children. In such cases, children inadvertently go through stress and anxiety. Parents can be mindful of their own anxiety and work on it to avoid it going to their children.
In my opinion, parents and teachers need to have frank conversations about the child. Both the parent and teacher are important stakeholders when it comes to the development of the child. Therefore, open channels of communication between the two are very important.