Identifying signs of stress in your child (and helping them cope with it)

Today I have a  guest post from Zara Lewis, a designer, freelance writer, contributing blogger for High Style Life and full time mummy of two little ones. I hope your enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Identifying signs of stress in your child (and helping them cope with it)

According to the data provided by the American Psychology Association, there are a lot of factors that influence children’s well-being and unfortunately – different stress triggers go unnoticed by most of the parents. We are used to associating stress with adulthood but the truth is – kids have their own personal reasons for worrying. They usually fear not being good enough or failing in school, or they struggle with motivation to study, which may be one of the reasons why there is an increase of 62% in the last decade regarding parents who choose homeschooling. Other worries include maintaining relationships with their siblings, handling peer pressure, and parents’ financial state. Here’s how you can help your child cope with stress.

Learn to recognize a cry for help

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Too often we perceive everything from our own adult perspective. While objectively, we may think there’s really no reason for our children to worry about anything, it is wrong to disregard their feelings. Your child might approach you and complain about feeling sick or worried and you should never try to solve this situation simply by saying – you’re fine. You need to encourage your child to express their feelings, and formulate what exactly is the thing that’s bothering them. By learning this, your child will set a cornerstone for developing emotional intelligence which is extremely important for mental health. Initiate a conversation, validate their feelings, and make sure you’re not pushing too hard.

Embrace the benefits of art therapy

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There is a beautiful quote by the famous painter Pablo Picasso: Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life. Kids are naturally artistic and creative and surely – many find communicating via words exhausting or hard. Expressing thoughts and feelings is a lot easier with a white canvas to start with and the possibilities hidden behind highlighters, crayons, watercolors or ink. Art therapy is very efficient for children on the autism spectrum as they usually have different ways of interacting with people, in comparison to neurotypical persons. Children with autism have a specific sensor system which makes it hard to cope with the overwhelming sensations from the outer world. This can be rather stressful both for the child and the parent, but art has proven to be a great, gentle way for handling sensory processing issues and encouraging creative thinking.

A good night’s sleep is crucial

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Sleep is extremely important for your child’s physical and mental health. Stress can often disrupt sleep and you need to address this issue as quickly as possible. Insomnia is nerve-wracking and it makes every problem seem larger than it truly is. To ensure a good night’s sleep, try establishing a bedtime routine that will help your child unwind. Always provide clean and fresh sheets: use soothing scents such as vanilla or lavender to induce sleep. Air quality is also important: vent the room regularly to regulate humidity and temperature. A warm bath right before bed will calm your child and prepare their body for sleep. If insomnia stays persistent, your child might be struggling with melatonin deficiency and, therefore maybe needs supplements, but prior to taking any further steps on your own you should contact pediatrician, who might suggest some natural healing methods.

Try different ways of relaxation

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Leisure time and light physical activity can help your child reach much-needed balance. Engage in a conversation with your little one in order to find a type of exercise that he will actually enjoy. It’s important to gradually build a healthy attitude towards these habits so that your child doesn’t perceive it as a boring duty. For example, cycling has multiple benefits and kids usually love it as a fun way to get to know the neighborhood or relax in nature. It triggers a healthy thirst for an adventure and helps with getting rid of any fears from the outer world. Also, encourage your child to enjoy quiet time and daydream. In this fast-paced world, we forget the importance of slowing down and just relaxing by doing nothing. Playtime is crucial for child’s healthy well-being as it helps kids develop their interests, discover new parts of their identities, build social skills, and handle emotions. It’s an irreplaceable source of happiness: humans are hardwired to enjoy playtime and it has proven to be a great way to reduce anxiety.

Encourage your child to find their own pace

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From the earliest age, children are prone to comparing themselves to others. This may trigger anxiety, feelings of falling behind or not fitting in. Make sure your child understands the beauty of the diversity and that the only right tempo to follow in life is their own. Lead by the desire to belong to a certain group, your child might suppress their own identity that started forming, but it’s all part of growing up. Most children learn to value authenticity later in life.

Children are sensitive and they are like little sponges, soaking in everything around them and processing it in a very complex way. Support them in any way you can, as they have it harder than we may think.

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