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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.
5. How to connect with your child’s educators and have an open conversation about stress in 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.
The following strategies may help keep stress and anxiety in check. – Set a sleep schedule: Research recommends 9-12 hours of sleep for 6-12-year-olds and about 8-10 hours for teens. Make sure that they have good sleep at night. – Exercise: Exercise releases hormones that help in the coping of stress. Therefore, it is a must for children and teens. – Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced meal also helps to keep one fit and fine. Binge eating or not eating can lead to added stress.
– Watch out for helicopter parenting: Don’t hover around your child all the time. Be around but being involved in every little thing makes children irritable. – Model good coping skills: When children see their parents cope with stressors effectively they learn resilience and are more likely to model that behaviour. – Keep the conversations open: Encourage your child or teen to talk about whatever is going on with them. Don’t judge it!
The Channel 46