Written by: Loretta Blevins, Well-Mamas Counseling, APPC 4414
During these times of crisis, our children are experiencing stress and anxiety. Sometimes, children experience stress, and we don’t realize it, because they do not know how to label their experience or might be afraid to talk about their feelings. Often children do not understand the crisis and all of the feelings that come up. There are ways parents can help children deal with some of the anxiety related to these difficult times.
It is important to know the signs of stress in children so that parents can help them cope with stress in a healthy way. Children are more likely to exhibit behavioral changes rather than verbalizing feeling stressed or worried. Every child expresses the signs of stress differently therefore, your knowledge of your child’s temperament is the best reference to gauge if your child is experiencing stress and/or anxiety.
Parents should look for the following signs of stress and anxiety:
· Excessive worry, difficulty relaxing, and new or recurring fears.
· Clinging, unwilling to let you out of sight, crying, and whining.
· Anger, irritability, aggressive or stubborn behavior.
· Changes in appetite and other changes in eating habits.
· New or recurrent bedwetting.
· Nightmares and sleep disturbances such as refusing to go to sleep, intermittent waking.
· Complaints of upset stomach, vague stomach pain or headaches.
· Not able to control emotions or use previously used tools to manage feelings.
Once parents are aware of the signs of stress and anxiety, they can help their children by talking openly and listening carefully. Also, make your home a safe space. Calm relaxed spaces help children feel safe. Create routines that a child can depend on that parents can balance with work, like dinner and a family time such as family game night. Be careful to limit TV shows, video games and books with scary and violent content. Prepare children for big changes, a move, new school or job, with discussion and opportunities to express their feelings about the change.