Stress is a physical, emotional, and mental response to difficult or demanding situations. Stress can be a diffuse feeling, difficult to deal with. Children can also suffer from stress. The root of anxiety and stress in children can be external, such as family changes, a school problem, or a friend’s conflict. Stress is the body’s reaction to various problems and challenges in life. Children don’t have as much experience with stress management as adults, and sometimes small events can be stressful for them.
A Positive or Negative Event Can Cause Anxiety and Stress in Children
Lack of communication skills in children makes them handle and express their stress differently from adults. Children’s stress can be caused by a positive or negative event that changes their daily habits and often manifests in the form of physical symptoms and/or a behavior change. It is possible to help the child reduce his stress.
Anxiety is a normal emotion in response to a feeling of danger, fear of the unknown, or a new situation. It may allow a child to remain cautious under certain circumstances.
It is normal for a child to feel anxious occasionally, even for a young child, for a child to feel nervous in certain situations: on the first day of school, before an exam, if he or she is must speak in public, if in a busy place.
Anxiety and stress in children become a problem when it elicits an overreaction to the unknown or novelty, generate great distress, are difficult to control, last for a while, and cause so that the child avoids certain situations. If the anxiety grows too much or interferes with a child’s daily life, it is important to find ways to reduce their fears.
Children’s mental health is judged by observing their ability to respond positively to the world around them. We experience anxiety when we are not feeling well when we are afraid or worried.
This phenomenon continues to grow with the acceleration of the pace of life and its changes. While moderate stress can play a positive role in a child’s development, repeated or chronic stress can have devastating effects.
Any child can be shaken by these often inevitable changes of benchmarks that punctuate daily life: moving, the arrival of a little brother or sister, separation of parents, school entry, difficult financial period. for the family…
The case of naturally anxious children. In them, anxiety is a character trait, which can sometimes be seen in the first years of life. All their emotions are heightened, both the beautiful and the not-so-good.
The Causes of Anxiety and Stress in Children
The reasons for childhood stress are as varied as the children who have it. Even if there seem to be genetic predispositions to such tensions, the family environment and the social context remain the major causes. Stress most often comes from outside sources (such as family, friends, or school), but it can also come from within.
Stress can affect anyone, even a child, feeling overwhelmed by events. A two-year-old, for example, may feel stressed because the person they need to feel good (a parent) is not present enough. Among children ready to go to school, separation from parents is the greatest cause of anxiety.
As the child grows up, academic pressures and pressure from the group (especially the one they want to integrate into) cause stress and anxiety. In addition, parents sometimes add stress to their children’s lives without realizing it. Parents who push their children to excel in sports or who put them in too many activities can also create stress and frustration in their children if they do not share the same urges.
Aggravating factors such as illness, the death of a loved one, or a divorce can cause stress in children. Even the best possible divorce between parents can be difficult for children as their original protection system (their family) breaks down and will undergo a change.
Some Situations That Can Be Stressful for Young Children:
* the arrival of a new baby,
* a change in routine or a feeling of insecurity,
* a change of school, teacher or bus driver,
* learning a new skill,
* decision-making in the face of too many possibilities.
Signs of Childhood Anxiety
If the child frequently exhibits one or more of the following signs, it is important to find ways to reduce their anxiety.
* Physical ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, heartaches, or tension.
* Sleep problems.
* From chronic diseases (asthma, eczema), there is usually a worsening of symptoms.
* A sudden behavior change. For example, he is restless, irritable, and in a bad mood. He has intense temper tantrums. He cries and looks sad or worried.
* A sudden introversion.
* A regression in the level of maturity.
* A constant need to be reassured.
* A lack of concentration.
* Difficulty concentrating.
* Excessive reactions to certain events. He tries to avoid certain situations, such as going to friends, going to school, or being babysat.
* The appearance, or recurrence, of tics.
* Seek to devalue himself, to denigrate himself, to pass a degraded judgment on himself.
Anxiety and Stress in Children
It is not always easy to recognize the symptoms of stress in children. Short-term behavioral changes like mood swings, trouble sleeping, or even bedwetting can be indicators of stress. Some children even experience the physical effects of stress, such as an upset stomach or headache. Others have difficulty concentrating or have difficulty doing their homework.
In infants, stress can be expressed by developmental delay.
Younger children can respond to stress by adopting new habits such as sucking their thumbs, sticking their fingers in their hair to make curls, or sticking their fingers in the nose. Older children may start to lie or want to challenge authority. A stressed child may have nightmares, have difficulty separating from their parents, react disproportionately to small problems, or even experience a drop in their grades and grades.
There are no precise markers of stress in children. As the manifestations of stress are very different from one child to another, it is mainly the changes in the child’s attitude that allow stress to be detected.
A child’s difficulty in coming into contact with others can also be a manifestation of stress. Thus, children who stay away or are withdrawn, even very young, have a greater propensity for anxiety.
To your well-being and health,
Personal Development Coach
Author, Speaker, Mentalotherapist