Following on from the success of Stress Awareness Day 2017, the International Stress Management Association, (ISMA), are dedicating a whole week of events and activities to Stress Awareness from the 5th November – 9th November 2018. We are asking do kids suffer from stress?
‘Stress’ is a condition brought on by our everyday lives and our ability to cope with the situations we face, often referred to as ‘fight or flight mode’. There can be ‘good’ stress; think of an athlete preparing for a competition and the Adrenalin starting to flow in order for them to compete, or there can be ‘bad’ stress, situations that cause us to become overtly anxious in a negative way such as running late for an appointment or being stuck in a traffic jam.
Problems start to arise when the stress we feel becomes less acute and more chronic, i.e. long term. This can lead to other psychological and physical illness, including depression, personality disorders, gastro or stomach problems and sleep deprivation.
Many people think stress is purely a condition that adults can experience, however in today’s society, where the figures show that 1 in 10 children and young people suffer from mental health conditions, is it not time we started to ask the question seriously, do Children suffer from stress?
What Causes Stress in Children?
Children just like adults, can become anxious over a wide variety of day to day issues. The NHS report that anxiety in young children can be especially common around phobias such as a fear of the dark or spiders and other insects.
Furthermore, children can become anxious over starting or changing schools, peer pressure to fit in and be sociable, or tests and exams. These fears are normal and more often than not subside as the child develops more confidence.
Social media is also a recognisable factor as a cause of anxiety in kids, particularly teenage girls who feel compelled to conform to the latest images on screen; and cyber bullying is sadly a common factor in young people becoming distressed.
There are also of course life changing circumstances such as parents separating or bereavement of a loved one which can have particularly detrimental effects on children, and in situations where children find it increasingly difficult to cope, or if they don’t understand why something has upset their family life, or notably, if there are underlying conditions such as Autism, the stress can be particularly devastating, and lead to life long health issues.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Stress in Children and Young People?
Some of the signs and symptoms of stress in children and young people are very similar to those that adults can experience. Headaches, nausea, stomach upset, irritability and poor sleep are all signs that a person is suffering from stress. Other signs to consider in children and young people are;
- Bed wetting
- Nightmares or Night terrors
- Change in eating habits
- Becoming withdrawn
- Suddenly becoming more ‘clingy’
- Emotional outbursts
- Unusual new habits such as thumb sucking
- Other physical symptoms but with no physical illness
How to Reduce Stress in Children and Young People
Helping your child through difficult situations and giving them the tools to cope is something we all strive for, and sometimes we can make ourselves feel guilty if we think we are not doing a good enough job!
Practical support such as a healthy, nutritional diet and ensuring enough, quality rest are always good places to start, but emotional support is equally important.
No matter how busy you think you are, making time for your children, talking to them and listening to them are vital in maintaining emotional stability. Children are like sponges and soak up everything they see and hear, and they have a whole world going on in their heads that they simply need to explore, so often letting them do the talking is the best way for a child to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Another factor in helping children developing healthy coping strategies is of course to encourage play and creative thinking.
Encouraging children to play with no motives involved or schedules in place gives them the freedom to learn and develop at their own pace and encourages freedom of expression.
Many of the bespoke, wooden toys we make here at Discovering Days are ideal for creative play and stimulating the imagination.
From our mixing tables and painting boards in the Arts and Design section to the wonderful Giant Story Telling Chair designed to encourage Communication and Language skills, our beautifully, hand-crafted, wooden toys make a superb addition to any school or nursery playground.
And don’t worry about the impact on the environment from the manufacture of our toys, all of our wood comes from well-managed, sustainable sources and our products are built and treated with longevity in mind!
So if you are a teacher or parent reading this and you are concerned about stress affecting your kids, then why not invest in some beautiful new play equipment for your school or nursery and encourage lots of additional play time! You might even get the chance to have a cup of tea whilst the children are busy enjoying themselves and feeling no pressure to deal with life’s demands! You can contact us here or call us on 01282 416 755 to discuss any of our toys or playground equipment. We are a small team of professionals who take great pride in what we do, knowing that our products are being used to help children and young people develop at their own pace whilst having a lot of fun.
And speaking of professionals, if you are ever overly concerned about your child suffering from stress don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from teachers or your GP, who will be able to guide you and offer support when you need it.