This guest blog post was written by Elizabeth Bear. She is a researcher, author, and content writer for My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, a brand that makes recordable stuffed animals to listen to your baby’s heartbeat. She spends her days as the ringleader of a never-tiring circus–one full of tightrope walkers, mess makers, and danger seekers. Elizabeth is currently expecting baby #5 and homeschooling the rest of her tribe. She exists on toddler kisses, caffeine, and tears of (panic) happiness. Also enjoy her latest blogs about pregnancy.
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to “learn your child”. This doesn’t just mean knowing your child’s favorite color or who their best friend is; it means understanding your child’s thought process, actions, and reactions. Of course, this is not an easy task and is ever changing. But learning the foundation–the roots–of your child will allow you to better relate to them and provide support throughout their life.
Stress can affect any individual, including a child. It can be brought on by family dynamics, lifestyle changes, health issues, school anxiety, social unease, competition pressure, or other triggers. As a parent, it is heartbreaking to watch a child suffer from stress without knowing how to relieve it.
Common signs of stress in children include:
- Negative Changes in Behavior
- Feeling Sick
- Changes in Sleep Patterns
- Becoming Withdrawn
- Lack of Focus
- New Habits (thumb sucking, hair twirling, etc.)
- Mood Swings, Tantrums, Acting Out
- Needing Constant Comfort (clingy)
If your children have elevated stress levels, try some of these effective ways to reduce stress and help them through their emotions.
Focus On Fun
Our society is full of stressors. So much so that our children are feeling the outcomes without being able to understand what they are dealing with. The lack of free time children have is leading to more stress. It is extremely important to understand what relaxes, excites, and simply makes your children happy.
So many parents assume they know when their children are happy. But look closer; watch how they react to the situation. Take mental notes and then provide ample time each day for your children to achieve happiness. This may be cloud watching or playing soccer in the backyard. Or it may be dancing, singing, drawing, or reading together. No matter what fun activities you include each day, be sure to take the time to teach meditation as well. Yoga is a wonderful daily option to reduce stress in children. Finally, stop over-scheduling and focusing on to do lists. Instead, be present with your child and simply enjoy yourselves.
Encourage A Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a complete whole foods diet, eliminating processed foods and dyes, and ensuring plenty of sleep helps the body reduce stress and handle emotions more easily. Including 30 minutes or more of daily physical exercise, which can consist of time on the playground, bike riding, bouncing on the trampoline or jumping rope, aids in stress relief. Additionally, regular chiropractic care can provide alignment within the spine which properly allows for the nervous system to communicate throughout the body with ease.
Quality time can include any one-on-one moments in which you connect with your child. Take the opportunity to truly hear what your children have to say. They may come out and talk about stressors, or you may open the dialogue to build the trust they need to talk about what is bothering them. Addressing fears, answering questions honestly, and providing love through these conversations can impact your children’s feelings.
Model Healthy Stress Release And Imperfection
Our actions speak louder than our words, and children are always watching. The way we handle a stressful situation provides an example to our children. Whenever possible, take the time to let your child shadow you throughout an experience. Practice deep breathing, calm words, and healthy stress outlets such as exercise, meditation, and journaling. Provide the tools for your child to perform these actions, allowing them the ability to use them during situations in which they feel stressed. It is also helpful to talk about how they are not perfect and that stress can creep in at times. As long as they have the tools to address these stressful moments, they will be in good shape.
Provide Or Seek Support
Knowing when your child needs more help than you can give is a hard line to cross as a parent, but it is an important one indeed. If a child is struggling with chronic stress and it is beyond your ability to help, please find professional help. There are therapists who specialize in helping children deal with their struggles, as well as guiding the parents in the best ways to support their child at home.
Remember not to expect change overnight, as your child must learn to cope, process, and then eliminate the stress over time. Being there to remind your children how loved they are throughout the journey will bring you closer together and create a foundation of trust and respect that will last a lifetime.
How do you help your children cope with stress?