How to recognize signs of stress and anxiety in children and what parents can do to help
February 09, 2023
It is sometimes assumed that stress and anxiety are only common experiences for teenagers and adults, yet they are just as prevalent in young children, bringing significant impacts on their mental health and well-being. Being able to recognise these signs of stress and anxiety in children can help parents take action to support their child and reduce related symptoms.
Signs of stress in children can include:
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue
- Behavioural changes, such as increased irritability or aggressive behaviour
- Difficulty sleeping or changes in appetite
- A decrease in school performance or a lack of motivation
- Increased clinginess or avoidance of social situations
Signs of anxiety in children can include:
- Worrisome thoughts and excessive fear or worry
- Avoidance of certain activities or places
- Physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, or rapid heartbeat
- Repeatedly seeking reassurance from others
- Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks
Parents can help their children manage stress and anxiety by taking the following steps:
1. Communicate with your child
Encourage open and honest communication with your child about their thoughts and feelings. Listen to their concerns and validate their experiences. Playing an active role in understanding what is causing distress and anxiety in children is important to show support.
2. Create a safe and stable environment
Children need a sense of security to thrive physically and emotionally. Create a stable and predictable environment at home, and be available to support your child through difficult times.
3. Encourage healthy habits
It can be helpful to encourage healthy habits, such as regular exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep. These habits can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.
4. Teach coping skills
Teach your child coping skills to manage stress and anxiety, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness exercises.
5. Limit exposure to stressors
Try to reduce exposure to stressors in your child's life, such as excessive screen time or overly demanding schedules.
6. Seek professional help if appropriate
If your child's stress or anxiety is impacting their daily life, seek the help of a mental health professional. A therapist can help your child develop coping strategies and provide support and guidance to manage their symptoms.
Recognizing the signs of stress and anxiety in children is an important first step in helping them manage their symptoms. Parents can support their children by providing a safe and stable environment, teaching coping skills, and seeking professional help if necessary. With the right support and care, children can learn to manage their stress and anxiety and lead happy healthy lives.