Children Under Stress and Its Management

Introduction

Many grown-ups view children’s life as a life that is always happy, playful, joyous and free from any kind of stress. The parents, caretakers and adults in general view that children do not have jobs to keep and go to, bills to pay or families to run therefore they do not see how or why children can experience any kind of stress. However, there are many sources of child stress; one of the sources is pressure which come from within the child. In this case, the child can put pressure on him/herself due to the discrepancy between what the child thinks ought to be done and what the child is actually doing. Second is from outside sources such as families, friends or in schools.

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In current technological world and societies, people tend to experience various kinds of stress at all levels of their lives whether as children, adolescents or as adults. A consensus has been drawn that any stress which may be experienced by a person in the early stages of development may have a profound impact on the development processes as well as in social adaptation of that person. However, it has been noted that the nature of stress in a person is not well understood and its immediate and longterm characteristics are not well defined or understood.

Stress from school

There are many stress factors in schools which make the children to be stressed. Being bullied at school by other children or teachers can make a child feel stressed. This is because the child feels that he/she is not accepted in the schools and this may make the child to have a negative attitude towards other people and themselves.

When a child turns an assignment or work which may have been given by the teacher late, such a child may feel stressed out because the child may feel that he/she does not have good knowledge like other children. Stress may also be triggered further by teachers if they reprimand such a child as they feel unequal with others or view themselves as stupid. A child may also be slow in school activities such as sports and this may make the child feel stressed.

When a child in class is asked about a question by a teacher and is unable to answer, such a child may be stressed because he may feel ashamed and stupid. This feeling may be intensified especially if other pupils laugh at them or call them names which indicate they are incapable or stupid.

Stress may also be experienced when the child does not have fashionable clothes as compared to other children in the school. This makes the child to have a feeling of low social status compared to other children. Loss of school items such as books, pens or uniforms may also make the child stressed as the child may feel irresponsible and with an inability to take care of his/her own things.

Stress may also be experienced by a child when either the parents, guardians or teachers have high expectations of good performance in academic or other performances and the child is unable to deliver their expectations.

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According to (Parcel & Menaghan, 29), homes are the first social environment which children are exposed to and they are the primary environments which affect stress levels in children. If families are filled with happiness and the family environment is relaxed, children are less stressed and they are also happy. However if the home is filled with tense parents who fight constantly over petty issues, the stress level of children however small is bound to be high and this affects the child a lot.

Usually, children are not able to tell when they are stressed and they may express the stress in different ways. Parents need to confront their children and ask them about their problems because ignoring their problems will aggravate more problems.(Parcel & Menaghan, 29)

Any tense situation at home which increases the stress of a child is like an ongoing stress, family fights or property disputes. Parents should therefore ensure that homes remains stress free and the parents should not argue in front of their kids.

Stressed out parents and negligent parents at home can make their children have stress. This is because such parents extend their stress to their children by screaming at them and makes the child feel that they are at fault. Negligent parents also lack the basic parental care which should be given to their children and as a result the child feels that their parents do not have parental care and love which they should extend to them. Parents who are not emotionally available for their children or those who lack a positive mechanisms for themselves often than not trigger stress in their children.

Children at home may experience stress due to depreciation of their childhood by some parents. This is because many children are faced with family responsibilities when they are still young and are forced to carry out some responsibilities which are not meant to be for their age. This makes the child to mature faster than they really should and therefore they are denied some of the steps which they are meant to pass through during their childhood growth.(Parcel & Menaghan, 29)

Parents who are out to mean well for their children may also end up adding more stress to their children. For example the parents who are high achievers usually have equally high expectations for their children. Such children however may lack their parents motivation or capabilities because the parents may be too involved with their businesses therefore making the child to strive a lot resulting to stress. Parents who push their children to excel in the field which the child may not be interested in or those parents who enroll their children in so many activities cause unnecessary frustration and stress to their children because they are not given a chance to share their goals and expectations in life.

Stress levels of children in families may also be heightened when they hear their parents talking about the troubles which they are facing in life, such as troubles at work, illnesses of a relative or friend, fights with spouses or financial problems. The children usually pick the parents anxieties and worry themselves with them.

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Families are the most basic security systems for children. Therefore when the family is going through a tough change such as divorce of their parents however amicable it can be, may be a very difficult experience for the child. This feeling can be intensified if the children are made to choose sides whether to go with their mother or father. Negative comments of one spouse about the other also makes the child to develop stress which affects the normal growth of the child.

Children from single parents are faced with stress because they experience an imbalanced parental love. These children may not know who the other parent is whether mother or father and they may be scared to ask about it. They may also be bullied by other children who have both parents and this makes the child to experience stress. (Parcel & Menaghan, 29).

Signs and symptoms of stress in children

Stress in children affect their physical, emotional, intellectual, social and academic well being. It can also affect their motivation, perception, attention, memory and their learning process. Children however have different coping abilities and what causes stress in one child may not be the same thing which causes stress in another. Recognizing a stressed child is not always easy. However, there are many symptoms which adults can check on children to know whether the child is experiencing stress.

Short-term behavioral changes of children such as mood swings, changes in sleeping patterns, acting out or bed wetting can be as a result of stress. The child may also experience physical effects such as stomachaches, headaches or neck pain, others may have trouble with their concentration levels especially in schools while others may be found withdrawn from other children and wants to spend their time alone. Younger children who are reacting to stressful situations may be found to pick some habits such as sucking their thumbs, nail biting, nose twirling, sighing deeply or hair twirling, while older children may begin to lie about some things, defy authority or bully others. Children may also have nightmares, daydreaming, lethargy and may act in a way that they do not want to leave you, overreactions to minor things. The children may also have trouble getting along with others and may have a strained look or frawning. (Medeiros, Porter& Welch, VIII).

Other signs may be emotional disabilities, aggressive behavior, social phobia, shyness and lack of interest in interesting activities. Teenagers who are stressed become nonconformist and fall into teenage depression due to many of the growing anxieties.

As the child grow older, there are academic and social stress such as the quest to fit in, which are experienced. The child may also lack time to play after school as they may be too busy with their home works or other chores in the house and end up not playing which an essential part of childhood growth. The many cases of homicides, accidents or suicide which are mostly focused in the news and other sources of information also affects the children. For example, the bombing which took place in America on September 11, 2001 added stress to many children even those who were not affected directly by the strategy which saw many people dead. The children who usually watch the televisions and see the replays of that tragedy or any other disturbing news such as plane crash, bioterrorism, or war make them to worry about their safety and that of the people they love such as parents and friends. Other complicating factors in life such as illnesses, death, divorce may also be contributors of a child’s stress. (Medeiros, Porter& Welch, VIII).

Separation of small children who join preparatory schools or boarding schools from their parents makes the children be stressed. This is because the children experience a new surrounding away from their parents and they lack the feeling of security which they derive from the parents. They also feel anxious due to lark of the person whom they usually rely on to make them feel good is not there most of the times to to satisfy them. The children as a result may be unable to concentrate in they studies and this may affect their performance. 

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Younger children who are reacting to stressful situations may be found to pick some habits such as sucking their thumbs, nail biting, nose twirling, sighing deeply or hair twirling, while older children may begin to lie about some things, defy authority or bully others. Children may also have nightmares, daydreaming, lethargy and may act in a way that they do not want to leave you, overreactions to minor things. The children may also have trouble getting along with others and may have a strained look or frawning.

Other signs may be emotional disabilities, aggressive behavior, social phobia, shyness and lack of interest in interesting activities. Teenagers who are stressed become nonconformist and fall into teenage depression due to many of the growing anxieties.

Preventing/coping with stress

At the moment when symptoms of stress are spotted in a child even though they are not alarming , parents or persons concern should seek help from specialists because stress management in children is best managed if taken to specialists. Adults should look out for any of the symptoms of stress because the symptoms are different in different children.

Children who have experienced stress need extra patient and reassurance from other people. These children can respond to physical contact such as hugging as it helps them to relax and to rebuild self esteem. One should listen to their problems and discuss them because together a solution can be achieved. Encouraging children in the areas where they are good or finding problems in helps them to feel good. (Bompa, 175).

Encourage them to be open and honest about their feelings, if this is hard, talking about your own concerns also helps the child to open up. Encourage them to engage in physical exercise as it burns out stress and try to be humorous as it helps them to feel good. They should also be given quiet time and encourage them to eat while providing a balanced diet and have enough sleep.

Children can also be taught how to recognize symptoms of stress and any changes which they may feel occurring in them. Books about stress management are good because they allow the children to identify characters in stressful situations and how they are able to cope with their situation.

Realistic expectations for children should be provided, they should not be committed with too many activities especially after school, be encouraged to have fun and chaos at home which make the child nervous should be cut. An environment which promotes a relaxed lifestyle, a peaceful living and good relaxation techniques should be provided to children.

Conclusion

In conclusion, parents and adults should remember that some level of stress is normal and they should let the children to know that a feeling of anger, fear, loneliness or anxiousness is okey for them and they should be free to share their feelings. Parents should also know that they have the capability of dealing with their children stress and should seek professional help when the behaviors persists, or is causing problems at home or in school.

Good parenting and making yourself available to the child regardless of the age is very helpful in preventing stress as it shows the child how important she/he is to you. Children should also be prepared for a potential stressful situation such as going to school or a doctor’s appointment by telling them what happens there so that they will be ready psychologically.

Work cited

Bompa Tudor, total training for young champions, Human Kinetics, ISBN: 073600212x Medeiros, 1996.

Donald; Porter Barbara & Welch David, children under stress, prentise hall, U.S Parcel Tobly & Menaghan Elizabeth, parents’ jobs and children’s lives, Aldine transaction, U.S, 1994

Pfeffer Cynthia, severe stress and mental disturbance in children, American Psychiatric pub, Inc, U.S. 1990.

Youngs Bettie, stress in children: how to recognize, avoid and overcome it, Arbor house, ISBN:0877956847, 1985

Stress Management Techniques. Web.

Overcome school related stress. Web.

Symptoms of stress in children? Web.

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