You may be forgiven for thinking – what do children have to be stressed about? Being a child is the easiest time of your life.  Well, if you remember your childhood, then you know that this is not always true.

As soon as you start school, the stress seems to start; getting good grades, making friends, getting up early and going to bed early are just a few of the things that you have to worry about when you are a child. Nowadays, children have a lot of anxiety with all the activities and technology that keep them attached to their studies and other activities all the time.  For example, if your child has a mobile phone, as many do, they are attached to school, friends, and afterschool activities 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this can add to your child’s levels of stress.

On the News

Other factors can affect your child’s stress levels too, things that you would not even think would bother them.  You might also believe that your children do not really watch the news so why would they be concerned about what is going on in world news and politics? In reality, children have access to news all the time with the internet and they will also overhear things from other children and adults. They may even see disturbing things on television even when they are not watching the news.  How many times while you are watching prime-time television do you see graphic images about natural disasters that are going on all over the world such as hurricanes and terrorism?  Your child sees those things too.  Whilst we are able to process these awful events and understand what is going on, young children do not have those capabilities and could worry that these things may happen to them too.

Parental Issues

Other issues that can affect your child’s stress levels are things going on in your life.  Children pick up on more than we think and can tell when something is going on even if we do not say anything in front of them.  In fact, it can be better if you talk to them about things that are going on in your life so that they know that you are not hiding things from them.  Depending on how old your child is, you can (and possibly should) share things with them about your life (up to a point) so they do not worry unnecessarily.  For example, if your child hears you and your partner talking to each other in anger, even if you are not shouting, they could worry about divorce.  Or, if you are having money troubles and have to cut back on certain things, explain this to your child so that they understand and don’t worry about why you are cutting back and what it could mean.  Most of the time, the truth is much less damaging than a child’s imagination when it comes to things like this. Giving them as much information as you can without burdening them with your problems can be far more beneficial to them than them filling in the blanks with their vivid imaginations!

How Do You Know if Your Child is Stressed Out?

There are some signs as to whether your child is suffering from stress or anxiety. Some of these include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Crying for no reason
  • Aggravation or irritation
  • Eating less or more than usual
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Withdrawing from others
  • More tired than usual
  • Headaches, nausea, or other random physical problems

How You Can Help

As a parent, you feel responsible for your child’s every waking moment.  However, there is only so much you can control, especially once they are older and in school. The more independent they become the less control you have over what they do and how they feel but there are ways to help your child no matter how old they are.  Some of these are:

  • Talk to your child, communication is the most important way of knowing what is going on with your children.
  • Make them feel encouraged to come and talk to you about their worries. This can be vital and sets them up with an important skill in learning to communicate their emotions.
  • Get involved, join in with school functions, clubs, or afterschool activities so that you know what they are experiencing and can possibly ‘feel’ it from their perspective.
  • Help your child to be sociable: if your child is having a hard time making friends or talking to other children, help them by encouraging them to join a club or sports activity.
  • Talk to someone. If you think your child needs extra help there are professionals that can help you both with anxiety and what is causing it.  You can see a therapist in person or talk to someone online that can help and either offload or advise you.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions?

( This blog was written by Marie Miguel, one of our guest bloggers so thank you!)