Stress is often described as feeling overloaded, wound-up, tense and worried, and occurs when we face a situation where we feel challenged. Stress from time to time is a normal part of life at any age, and experiencing an optimal amount of stress can be helpful. Some stress can have benefits such as helping us to perform, motivating us to get things done, and challenging us to do things outside of our comfort zone. However when stress levels are more extreme and ongoing, things can feel overwhelming and can lead to problems with physical and mental health. It is important to identify when your child or teen is experiencing stress to help them manage effectively.
Identifying when your Child is Experiencing Stress
Understanding your child or teeagers triggers for stress can assist you to anticipate times where they may require additional support. Common stressors for children and teenagers can include school based issues such as a high workload, tests and transition points. Family changes such as moving house, a new sibling in the family, changes in parenting arrangements or tension at home may also be a source. Social issues can be difficult such as making friends, peer pressure, social media, and bullying. Personal stressors may also impact your child such as their experience of high expectations (from themself or externally), and as well as managing multiple commitments.
Be in tune to your child or teen’s warning signs that they may be experiencing stress. They may show that they are experiencing stress through:
- Mood changes – such as irritability, being argumentative, emotional ups and downs,
- Changes in behaviour – such a withdrawal from others, not taking care of themselves or their responsibilities like they normally do.
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns – difficulty sleeping, fatigue or sleeping more than usual may indicate stress. Overeating or a loss of appetite may also indicate that your child may be having difficulty coping.
- Getting sick more often – stress may show up in physical symptoms.
Putting in place preventative and supportive strategies can help reduce the impact of these stressors and challenges. Some strategies to help reduce stress include
- Communicate – show understanding and support, be there to listen and support them with problem solving any difficulties.
- Exercise – can release feel good chemicals to assist in reducing stress, improving mood and confidence. Encourage your child to keep active and get outside and have fun.
- Support them to eat well – encourage a balanced diet and lots of water.
- Support a good sleep routine – to assist your child to manage stress. Children 6-12 years old require 10 hours sleep, whereas young people aged 12- 17 normally require between 8-10 hours sleep per night. Turning off devices at least 30-60 minutes before bed also assists with a more rested sleep.
- Encourage relaxation exercises – such as music, going for a walk, drawing, painting.
- Encourage activities for fun – playing, hobbies, sports, connecting with supportive friends.
- Model and encourage effective coping strategies – look after yourself too and share effective ways that you may have managed similar situations.
Accessing Professional Support
Supporting your child to access professional support to assist in managing stress can be helpful. Speaking with your General Practitioner (GP) as a starting point and engaging with a Psychologist can assist in supporting your child to develop skills and strategies to reduce stress and improve their wellbeing.
Make sure that you take time to look after yourself too. It may also be helpful for you to engage with a professional for your own support and to develop additional coping skills. If you feel that you or your child may require assistance, please contact us at Prosper Health Collective for further information on 6381 0071.