Navigating Childhood Stress and Anxiety

Childhood Stress and Anxieties

Everyone has worries and fears, hopes and aspirations, and as children get older they develop in new and different ways. However most adults view a child’s life as easy compared to the lives they know in their own adult lives, but a child’s worries and fears should never be taken lightly. Some fears are irrational, as far as adults are concerned, but when it comes to issues like monsters under the bed or the ominous feeling that comes with the night, it helps for parents to be supportive as well as informative, but in a delicate and understanding manner. There are also more troublesome anxieties that plague children that are serious no matter what the context, and it is absolutely vital that parents are aware of the effects these things can have on their children in the present and what that could mean for their future as well.

Bullying is one of the major, as well as the most common issue that children face on a fairly regular basis. Whether your child is being bullied, has witnessed bullying or perhaps they even are the bully, it is important for parents to look out for the signs that something may be wrong at school or on the playground. Communication is key, and it is important that you open a line of dialogue with your child so that they are not afraid to come to you with issues or problems that they may be dealing with on a regular basis – which can be especially tricky when it comes to bullying as many kids may feel embarrassed or hurt by the events that take place outside the home.

If your child is bullied or is affected by bullying in any way, encouraging friendships and positive activities can work wonders. Having a support system and having a passion or favorite activity can be integral to building a strong sense of self-confidence. It can also be beneficial in a number of other ways, but these are great ways to make sure that your child feels safe, supported and strong.

Divorce or Marital Problems
As a parent, if you are in the midst of getting a divorce, are separated from your spouse or are having any other kind of marital issues, you may feel self involved and swept up in a way that affects you personally. But even if it feels as though this is an issue between you and your partner or ex-partner, children notice more things than many parents realize or are willing to admit. Verbal arguments or stressors put on your relationship can be visible and audible to your child, and it can certainly affect them and how they view you, themselves, and the world at large. Kids look to their parents as an example, so you may unknowingly be leaving a bad impression.

It is also important that parents understand not to hide things from their child as if it were a secret, but to explain and help them understand in a manner that makes sense to them. Be mindful of any arguments you get into and be aware of the things that you say. Getting a divorce or going through marriage troubles can be incredibly trying, but it is vital that you are aware of how this also affects your children as well.

Guns and Violence
With guns being in the news a lot lately, kids are likely to hear the stories and are not wrong for being worried about it. Many adults are worried too, and regardless of your stance on guns it can be scary to hear about all of the shootings and other gun related violence taking the media by storm. It helps to engage kids on the subject and teach them valuable life lessons that can keep them safe, just as it is smart to discuss a fire escape plan for your home. Educate yourself about emergency situations, where the safest places to go are and what sort of behavior you should assume. Make sure that you discuss these sorts of things with your entire family so that they have some idea about where to go in the event of an emergency, whether you are together or if you find yourselves apart. Make sure that children know who to contact or who to call, that they try to remain calm, and that they understand your family plan of action. See if you can attend any community events or seminars that cover situations like these where you can learn more and even meet police officers, fire fighters, volunteers and so on. Encourage your kids to ask them questions it may help them feel better and safe in the long run.

There are many other things that can worry children such as natural disasters, domestic abuse to name a few, but the most important thing to do as a parent is to make sure that you are open, honest, and understanding so that your child knows they can come to you for help with anything.

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Are Your Kids Too Busy?

When people think of “busy” the image of a parent with a full schedule is usually a common image. With more and more families containing working parents these days, it is no wonder parents are seen as the busy ones. Between taking care of the family, running errands, keeping up with a career – and not to mention hobbies or passions if one has the time – parents are often running around, maintaining their hectic lives. But when people think of kids, they tend to think of bygone, carefree days full of imagination and play time, right?

Along with busy parents, there are busy kids. With more social and academic pressures in our society urging parents to keep their kids active, to have them participate in sports, after school activities, take up an instrument, learn a language, or join a variety of different clubs, kids may be overworked, too.

For teens, activities are a great way to bolster a college application and is something that many establishments look for when it comes to choosing prospective students. Younger kids may be along for the ride, especially if mom and dad, as well as their siblings, are constantly busy.

Whether kids are part of a club because their friends are or simply because there is no one to pick them up after school until one parent or the other becomes available, kids may feel stress and pressure from constantly running around as much as their older family members do.

Some kids are simply active and energetic, and that is completely normal, so how can you tell whether your child is stressed? Here are some warning signs:

If your child often expresses or visibly shows symptoms of tiredness, anxiety, or even depression (loss of interest, appetite, apathy, etc.)
If they complain of headaches or stomachaches (these can be due to stress, missed meals or lack of sleep)
If they fall behind on school work, if their grades drop

If you notice these issues, then it is important to take action – but what is there to do? If your child’s busy schedule relies on the general activeness of the rest of the family, then you may need to make some adjustments, but overall it is important that you discuss these things with your child and understand what it is that they want. Here are some things that you can do to help:

Agree on activities and arrangements ahead of time, and check in with them periodically to see how things are going
Establish carpools and other things that can help make life easier
Try to balance activities for your kids, and yourself
Make room for quality family time
Set shared priorities
Know when to say no

However, keep in mind that it is important to SLOW IT DOWN.  Take a moment and think about your child’s life and what they may be experiencing. If it’s hectic, sit down together and decide where you can cut back. If it’s overly structured, set aside time for blowing off some steam.  Downtime is crucial for these times and staying home, relaxing, reading a book together is probably much needed rest a child needs.