By Denise Morganthall

 

What happened to my happy, carefree child? Children should have no worries; that is what we would like to believe. However, children and young adults can suffer from stress just like adults. Actually they have a tougher time than adults because they have fewer experiences in dealing with stress and do not know how to handle it.

 

What can cause stress in children? Stress can be caused by what is happening at home – family arguments, divorce or illness. If your children hear you talking about these matters, it may be overwhelming for them. TV can cause stress if they are watching news about war, terrorism or natural disasters. Also as your children age, academic and social pressures can create stress.

 

What are some signs and symptoms of stress in children? It is not always easy to recognize when your child is stressed, however you may notice mood swings, changes in sleep patterns, headaches, stomachaches and even acting out behaviors. What is most important is that we as parents are available to help our children deal with these stressors. They may not want to talk, but just being there for them is important. Spend quality time with them; ask how their day was at school. They will know that you care and sometimes are more apt to share information when asked. When they are ready to talk, you can work together to come up with some solutions to the problem. Maybe spending more time together is the key, adding or eliminating after-school activities or getting involved in an exercise program. Also proper rest and good nutrition are important for a child’s mental health and wellbeing.

 

When kids won’t talk and their symptoms of stress concern you, you may need to consult a professional for help. Remind your children that stress is normal. Let your children know it is OK to feel lonely, scared or angry. But you also want to let them know that it is OK to seek additional help from a friend, teacher or counselor. The most important thing is that the child knows you care. For additional information on this and other topics, log onto www.ParentCentral.Net.