Youth StressPaying Attention to Youth Stress
Are you stressed? According to numerous physicians, psychiatrists and a number of research studies, stress is at least partially responsible for some diseases, mental illnesses, addictions and divorces.
It is a word used to explain road rage and other acts of violence.
Most frightening, perhaps, is when the word "stressed" is used to describe children.
Stress is a real issue for youth that needs to be addressed.
Childhood is a time most people perceive to be carefree. Children, we believe, have
few of the worries or responsibilities that cause stress and burnout in adults.
After all, they are not required to support a household, pay bills, work in high-pressure
environments or be responsible for others except themselves. Children are allowed to have
fun and enjoy themselves, while adults do the work.
If this is an accurate perception of childhood today, then why are we seeing so many
children manifesting symptoms of stress?
What creates stress?
Change is a major factor in causing stress in people of all ages. The change need not be a
bad one, just something that causes some upheaval in a person's life.
Change brings with it the unfamiliar and the unknown. A change in job, even a great
promotion, can create stress in an adult's life. A new school, new house or new baby can
bring stress to a child's life. The illness of a parent or the death of a pet may cause fears and
worries in the child that they cannot express.
Stress in children can also be the result of over-scheduling. Many children are away from the
comfort of home for long hours each day in after-school care.
Scheduling too much additional time away from home, no matter how enjoyable the activity,
can cause stress in children. Like adults, perhaps even more than adults, children need
downtime when they can relax in familiar, comforting surroundings.
Sometimes, parents feel the need to keep their children entertained when the greatest
gift may be allowing children to entertain themselves.
How do children manifest stress?
One child may be eating more or less; another may be sleeping more or starting to wake
up at odd hours of the night. Still another may have a drop in grades or begin having
problems getting along with classmates. These can all be signs of a stressed child.
A stressed child may become extremely upset with parents without provocation.
Stomachaches can be a symptom of stress, as can other physical complaints.
A stressed child may lose interest in activities they had previously enjoyed, become
withdrawn or isolate themselves from the rest of the family.
If your child is showing signs of stress, examine changes that may have occurred recently
in the family to identify the cause.
Check your child's schedule to ensure that they are not overly involved in activities
away from home.
You may want to talk with your child's teacher to determine whether these signs of
stress are showing up in school.
Talk to your child in a non-judgmental way.
Use phrases like "I've noticed that..." or "Let's talk about..."
Remember that children can't always describe or explain the feelings that
trigger their behavior.
Routines are helpful in alleviating stress. Regular bedtimes and meal times give children
a sense of security. Keep children active in the things that interest them the most.
Try and steer them in a creative and expressive direction.
Soccer is a great team sport whereby they can learn in a physically and mentally creative activity.