Children and Stress: Caring Strategies to Guide Children

As adults, we are usually busy as parents and workers and often feel stressed and experience burn-out at times, but would you ever think that children can experience stress too?
Most of us probably think that childhood is a time when children are carefree, having no worries or responsibilities; yet, studies tell us that many children experience extreme stress and have similar symptoms as those of adults. Like adults, children often have bad feelings and have difficulty handling their stress. Unlike adults, though, children do not have the means or the skills to understand or manage their stress in appropriate ways. Children must depend upon us to help them. As parents and caregivers we need to recognize when children are feeling stressed and help them feel better. We can also help by decreasing the discomfort for the child and, in some instances, by assisting a child or family in dealing with the situation that caused the stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is the body's reaction to a physical or emotional situation that causes imbalance in a person's life. Occasional stress is normal and predictable in our daily lives. Normal stress serves to present us with challenges for greater learning and opportunity, such as the stress that we may experience before meeting new people. On the other hand, constant stress can cause us many problems and, unless handled, can add to the stress of another situation.
Children react in different ways to stress. Some children become ill. Some may become withdrawn and nervous while others show anger and demand attention. In some instances, development is affected. There are also some children who do not seem bothered by stress. We often call these children resilient.
Stress becomes a problem when the ordinary stress of daily life becomes overwhelming. When under stress, there is an increase in heart rate, breathing is faster, and muscles tense up. When there are several stressors, the level and duration of the stress are greater. Read more...

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