With all of our worries about job security and financial stability we forget that our children are watching and picking up on our emotions. Stress is a normal part of every day life and some stress help us grow as people. We learn from our mistakes and become stronger problem solvers. Too much stress can be overwhelming and cause health and mental problems. I recently sat down with my daughter and talked with her about stress and asked her how our stress made her feel. She was honest with me and told me that when her father first learned he was getting laid-off in February she was worried about what we were going to do. He made good money and she knew he was the major supporter of the family. One week later I got real sick and was admitted into the hospital, she said she didn’t know what she was going to do. She felt more lost and alone then ever before. The second day I was in the hospital my husband was called back to work which was a big relief. She was still filling in that care taker role for her brother and still trying to be a kid. The consequences were she seems to be more resentful for feeling like she had to grow up to fast. She told me about some of the kids in school who occasionally smoke weed and others who picked up smoking cigarettes. Teenagers find ways to relieve their stress. We need to help our children learn to deal with the challenges of stress in a constructive way before it becomes out of hand.
Children’s stress is mostly homework, friends and social situations, bullies, sports and home life. It may not seem like a lot but it really can be when we add to it. I recently was told more children are worried about financial problems, doing good in school and getting into a good college than parents realize. Parents add to children’s stress more than they know. We all have seen the parents that pushes and guiding every step their kid makes day to day. Being an involved parent is applauded. When your child becomes your project or life goal its not healthy for either of you. Comparing your achievements to your child and expecting your child to become the same as you. They are not us, they will make their own career paths in life. We need to help guide thats all encourage but not force.
Some of the signs of stress
Anxiousness, being more tense and irritable then usual
become more forgetful, accident-prone, easily confused and not being able to think clearly
having less energy, looking run down, not wanting to do usual activities
Besides emotional signs there may be physical symptoms
headaches, stomach aches, churning feeling in stomach, pounding heart (which is also a symptom of anxiety)
Stress can contribute to heart disease, some types of mental illness and abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. The American Academy of Pediatrics has started urging Physicians to routinely assess children’s stress levels.
Things we can do to help our kids
Take the pressure out of extra-curricular activities or limit how many they are involved in
Let them know you are always there to listen and give advice
Watch to see if the stress is getting worse. You may need to take them to see a counselor. It may be good to also make an appointment for yourself too.
You can always help yourself and help them in the process
Keep a positive attitude. Try to never let a situation make you feel hopeless.
Don’t make a mole hill into a mountain. Think “in 10 years will this really matter?”.
Plan better. Give yourself more time so your not rushing to get something completed or a bill is becoming past due.
Find time to relax EVERYDAY! Preferable try to split the time with alone time and family time
Get some form of physical activity
Eat healthy. Our youth pick up on that too!