How to Identify Stress In Kids
In the times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive- Lee Lacocca
In today’s fast-paced world, chronic stress is very common, but your mind and body can pay a very high price for the same. Learn to recognize overwhelming stress—and see what you can do about it.
We should look at stress as a deterrent in our personal lives considering it and dealing with it as a family on a whole.
What is stress?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of external demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it is real or imagined—the body’s defences kick into a high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and even alert. Stress can also help you rise to meet various challenges. It is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you are attempting the game-winning free throw, or even drives you to study hard for an exam when you would rather be watching television. Beyond a certain point though, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and of course your quality of life.
If you frequently find yourself feeling exhausted and even overwhelmed, it is time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance. You can protect yourself—and improve how you think and feel—by learning how to recognize the signs and symptoms of chronic stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.
Observing Stress In Kids as a Parent
Stress is a factor which should be discussed and address in every household, as stress can affect everyone right from a child to a senior citizen. Every person has their own way of dealing with stress. In fact dealing with it is an important key. As if you do not deal with it you conclusively there will be various health problems.
As parents it’s vital to educate your children about stress and inform them on how to cope with the same. In this article it is our focus to generalise all the stress factors and let you identify and control the ones which are affecting you and your children respectively and collectively.
It is vital for kids to have a fair idea on how stress impacts them. As parents it is essential to be aware of stress in kids and imbibe the awareness about the same in our kids. In order to identify the stressful episodes we should look at some of the symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of stress in kids and adults
The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get so used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal at times. You do not even notice how much it is affecting you, even as it takes a very heavy toll. That is why it is important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of a stress overload.
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Seeing only the negative
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Anxiety and agitation
- Moodiness, irritability, or anger
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Loneliness and isolation
- Other mental or emotional health problems
- Aches and pains
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness
- Chest pain, rapid heart rate
- Loss of sex drive
- Frequent colds or flu
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Withdrawing from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits (e.g. Nail biting, pacing)
Each person is different and how each person reacts to stress is also very different. The reaction to stress is what causes the symptoms of stress to prevail. Now let us look at various factors that can cause stress.
Health problems caused and aggravated by stress include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Pain of any kind
- Sleep problems
- Autoimmune diseases
- Digestive problems
- Skin conditions, such as eczema, urticaria
- Heart disease
- Weight problems
- Reproductive issues
- Thinking and memory problems
Causes of stress across age groups and various situations
The situations and pressures that cause stress are commonly known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or even a rocky relationship. However, anything that puts high demands on you can tend to be stressful. This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or even receiving a promotion.
Of course, not all stress is caused by external factors. Stress can also be very internal or self-generated, when you worry excessively about something that may or may not happen, or have irrational, illogical and pessimistic thoughts about life most of the time.
Stress in Kids
For children, the stress is primarily to meet up with the expectations of parents. Sometimes, the expectations have skyrocketed to reflect a certain degree of excellence from children. It is important to understand that each person had his own way of looking at things and dealing with things. It is important to be a guide and still have the child have his/her space.
Also sometimes the child himself/herself tends to have high expectations from themselves. It is important to ensure the child takes it easy and to not muster up too many emotions and feelings in order to excel.
Finally, what causes stress depends, at least in some way on your perception of the same. Something that is stressful to you may not frighten away someone else; they may even enjoy it a lot. While some of us are terrified of coming up in front of people to perform or speak, for example, others live for the spotlight. Where one person thrives under pressure and performs best in the face of a tight deadline, another will shut down when work demands escalate to a certain unprecedented degree.
Common external causes of stress include:
- Major life changes
- Work or school
- Relationship difficulties
- Financial problems
- Being too busy
- Children and family
Common internal causes of stress include:
- Inability to accept uncertainty
- Rigid thinking, lack of flexibility
- Negative self-talk
- Unrealistic expectations / perfectionism
- All-or-nothing attitude
Factors that influence and improve your stress tolerance level
Please incorporate the same in your life as parents and your kids’ life too.
Improvise on your support network – A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. On the flip side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.
Work towards a sense of control – If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it is easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your life—that you are at the mercy of your environment and circumstances—stress is more likely to knock you off course.
Determine your attitude and even outlook – The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If you are generally hopeful and optimistic, you will be less vulnerable. Stress-hardy people tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humour, believe in a higher purpose, and tend to accept change as an inevitable part of life.
Have an ardent ability to deal with your emotions – If you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you are feeling sad, angry, or troubled, you are more likely to become stressed and agitated. Having the ability to identify and deal appropriately with your emotions can increase your tolerance towards stress and help you bounce back from adversity.
Work tremendously on your knowledge and preparation – The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope with. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less stressful than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately from the same.
Improve your ability to handle stress as a family by –
- Get moving/ Get some Exercise
- Connect with others/ Positive Influencers
- Engage your senses completely
- Learn to relax
- Follow a healthy diet
- Get your dose of rest
Do your best and let the rest go!
Feature Image and Internal Image courtesy canva.com
Trishna Patnaik, a BSc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion that is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, "It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to everyday." Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India. Trishna is an art therapist and healer. She works with clients on a one on one basis in Mumbai. Trishna fancies the art of expressive writing and creative writing and is dappling her hands in that too, to soak in the experience and have an engagement with readers, wanderers and thinkers.