Children don’t have to pay bills or handle complicated romantic relationships, so what could they possibly be so worried about? The truth is, there are many sources of a child’s stress in today’s modern age. An overactive schedule may leave a child little time for recreational activities after school. This can leave them feeling anxious or tired.
Family difficulties such as arguing parents, marital separation, or overhearing parents discussing troublesome financial matters or health concerns can all have a negative effect on a child’s emotional well-being. Loss of a loved one, childhood trauma, and world news are also common sources of anxiety in children.
Here are seven tips and strategies to reduce your child’s stress and allow them to enjoy their youth.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress in Children
Frequent emotional and physical changes common to youth and puberty can make difficult to pinpoint whether or not children are experiencing stress or anxiety. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety in children.
路 Acting out
路 Difficulty concentrating
路 Headaches or migraines
路 Sudden neediness
路 Frequent lying
路 Drop in academic performance
If you notice your child is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, they may be dealing with childhood anxiety.
Tips for Reducing Your Child’s Stress
Create a Healthy Sleep Schedule
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that preschoolers should get at least 10-13 hours of sleep every night and children from ages 7-13 should be getting at least 9-11 hours of sleep.
One study tested the quality of sleep in football athletes and found that adequate sleep lowers anxiety levels and that a high depression score is closely associated with those who have poor quality of sleep.
Your child may not be a professional footballer but getting a good night's sleep is equally as important for their physical and mental health. When your child sleeps they rest their body and mind, improve memory function and feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the day ahead.
Have a Regular Family Night
Just as you may have a weekly scheduled date night with your spouse, it is equally as important to spend regular time together as a family. Eating meals together and sharing in a game night is a great way to schedule fun into your little one’s week.
During family night, it is wise to turn off all smart devices. Studies actually reveal that phone use is known to increase the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Family night is a great time to turn off the electronics and get back to basics of spending time together.
Set a Good Example
From food and beverage choices to learned social behavior, studies show that children mimic their parents every move from a young age. So, the best parenting advice when it comes to childhood anxiety is to set a good example. When you are in a stressful situation and you know your child is watching, be calm and collected.
By handling yourself well in front of your children you will be able to teach them the best way to handle stressful situations.
Look at the Positives in Life
Some great parenting advice when dealing with anxious children is to help them look on the bright side.
In a study for positive thinking, participants who had Generalized Anxiety Disorder were encouraged to generate positive images unrelated to their worries. The results showed a significant decrease in worry and anxiety. To summarize, pathological worry was reduced by positive thought replacement.
One way to help your children look at the positives is to practice doing 'Maybe' statements. If your child is having trouble at school, instead of allowing them to head into class stressed out and thinking their day is going to be terrible, remind them that things can change at a moment's notice.
Say things like, "Maybe today is going to be amazing!" or "Maybe today you will make somebody feel really good about themselves." or "Maybe today you will make a new friend." These statements are encouraging to your child, since they help them view the future as a positive instead of a negative.
You may feel like you are practicing good parenting by giving your children plenty of things to do throughout the week, but the truth is, an overbooked schedule may do more harm than good to your little one. One University of Texas study found that participants who had the busiest schedules had increased working memories, and also increased levels of stress. An overabundance of stress can have negative consequences on cognitive function.
Is your child overscheduling? Do you constantly find yourselves grabbing food on the go just so you can rush to the next extracurricular activity? If so, this may be a sign that your child is doing too much. Children need downtime for the same reasons that adults do. It gives them an opportunity to relax, rest, and rejuvenate their minds and bodies.
The Journal of Affective Disorders did a meta-analysis regarding the effects of exercise on depression. Of the 977 participants involved, those who exercised regularly experience a moderate to large positive effect on their depression.
Encourage your little one to get active by taking them to the park and making physical activity such as bike-riding or swimming a regular part of your family night. Not only will it benefit their physical health, but their mental health will benefit as well.
How will you ever know what is causing your child’s stress if they don’t talk to you about it? Communication is key to understanding your child and learning how to help them.
A study done by the Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health found that healthy communication may reduce anxiety, depression, and stress.
Having the aforementioned regular family night gives you an excellent opportunity to connect and communicate with your children, allowing them to talk to you in a relaxed setting about anything that is bothering them.
Childhood anxiety is on the rise. The best parenting advice for lowering your child's stress is to be a positive presence in their lives. Set a good example for how to handle stressful situations, have a regular family night, encourage your children to communicate, and keep your young ones healthy in body and mind. Taking these steps will help your young one to have a stress-free childhood.
Author Bio: Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.