Even as an adult, it can be difficult recognizing when you feel anxious, sad, overwhelmed, or stressed. This is even more true of your child that has a difficult time naming their feelings, let alone knowing what to do with them.
Since your children can in fact experience stress, use this article as a resource to learn how stress affects your child, and learn how to spot the signs of stress when they appear.
Effects of stress on your child
Childhood stress is a serious issue. As you read these effects, think about how you can make your child’s life easier.
Not enough play
Sports, school, and other commitments can keep your children from playing as often as they need it. Children need play to grow their imaginations, learn to socialize, and advance their motor skills. Encourage your child to play outside as well.
Poor family dynamics
About 40 to 50 percent of American couples divorce. Between changing routines, emotional stress, and feeling stigmatized socially, children are at least as impacted by divorce as are their parents. Children are also hyper-present in adult situations. With social media and more open parenting styles, children are more aware than ever of financial struggle, extended family feuds, and other hardships within their families.
Too much screen time
Kids who spend two or more hours looking at a screen score lower on thinking and language tests compared to those with less screen interaction. While sometimes a tablet, video game, or smartphone can be the path of least resistance in getting your child to stay quiet or behave, screen time is not the answer. Screen time does not allow children to handle delayed gratification. It demobilizes your child and prevents them from getting the exercise they need to stay active and healthy. Screen time can also overload your child’s sensory system, and disrupt their sleep patterns.
Signs of stress in your child
Here are a few of the signs to spot when they appear. If you spot them, then you can take action right away.
Withdrawing from or complaining about activities
If your child starts to seem disinterested in a sport or activity, then it may be time to review your calendar and remove a few commitments. Consistent complaining, unusual attachment to you, and lethargy toward something they used to love could be signs your child needs a break.
Talk with your child about their calendar, and offer to remove things that do not excite them. Making room for quality family time, relaxation, and unstructured play with their friends or siblings will go a long way in making your child feel more relaxed, more loved, and much less stressed out.
Becoming clingy with one parent or another
Acting out in school or withdrawing socially are common responses in children of divorce. Try to keep adult conversations between adults. Keep your child’s routine as consistent as possible. Routine allows children to feel secure and know they can depend on you.
Trouble falling asleep, waking up, and undue crankiness can be signs your child is spending too much time with their electronic devices. If you notice your child’s attention span getting shorter, or they are responding with angry outbursts when they do not get what they want right away, then it is time to consider hard limits on screen time.
Limiting screen time can be difficult for both of you at first, but you will see your child’s behaviors change for the better very quickly. Set a daily time limit for your child where they can play their favorite game, or have them earn a certain amount of screen time through doing chores and being helpful. Do not allow your child to take their device to bed with them, and stay consistent with your rules. The less time your child spends with their electronic device gives them more opportunity to spend energy exercising, playing with their friends, and growing their own imaginations.
It is not easy to accept that your child’s life may be affected by situations you have created or by the world outside that you can’t protect them from. World and local news, social media, and peer pressures add to the struggle of being a child in today’s society.
For more information
Childhood stress is a serious issue that you can change for the better. For more information, contact ARcare today at (877) 876-8032 to speak with a healthcare professional.