How to Spot Signs of Stress in Children
Today’s youth are bombarded with a multitude of stressors—a great deal more than we ever faced as kids. There’s societal stress, the burden of homework and school performance, peer pressure and bullying and the demand of extra-curricular activities. These factors can all trigger anxiety and stress in children. Daddy Nickell shares some insight on how to spot signs of stress in your kids:
1. Watch your child’s behavior and be concerned if you notice they’ve lost interest in things they were previously interested in such as sports or art. If they are withdrawing from your family and their friends and start isolating themselves, there’s cause to be alarmed and start the conversation with them. And remember not to trivialize their issues. As their parent, it’s important for you to make them feel valid. What seems small or unimportant to you might be big to them.
2. As a parent, you see sides of your child that a teacher or coach may not see, like their eating or sleeping habits. Life gets busy, but it’s important to take time and note your child’s everyday behaviors such as eating, sleeping and overall disposition. If they aren’t eating family meals like they used to, are having issues like increased anger or hyperactivity or start having nightmares or insomnia for no obvious reason, it’s time for a sit down heart-to-heart to see if there’s something going on that you’re not aware of. If the behavior feels strangely out of character for your child, don’t chalk it up to a “stage” or teenage angst without doing some digging.
3. If you’re noticing some different behavior from your child at home, check in with your child’s teacher to see how your child is performing in class. You’ll get another perspective and their teacher might have more to offer you in terms of their ability to concentrate in class, completing of their homework or general personality during the day. These are important keys to finding out if something is going on with your child.
4. Trust your instincts as a parent. If something feels “off” with your child, don’t assume anything or be afraid to ask them. If something in the pit of your stomach tells you to investigate deeper, do it. Your child needs you to be their advocate and help them guide them through rough times.
Remember to really listen to your kids, stay tuned in to their world and watch for different behaviors they may exhibit. Being a parent can be a tough job but you can do it!
Daddy Nickell, father of 7, founder of Daddyscrubs.com and the DaddyScrubs parenting blog.
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