Health

Stress... Do children feel it too?

How can you help your children deal effectively with stressful situations? Here is what I consider to be helpful tools.

Stress is this century’s calamity. But what are the causes, the symptoms and the effects of stress on our organism?

What causes stress?

Stress is the body’s normal reaction to new situations you are faced with. Stress can sometimes be positive, such as when it is a source of motivation that encourages you to push harder. Nonetheless, stress can often have negative effects on both your physical and psychological health. Your perception of different situations has a direct influence on the way you react and handle stress1.

Many types of stressors3

  • Physical stressors such as lack of sleep, malnutrition and climate changes.
  • Changes in routine and lifestyle.
  • Positive and negative feelings.

Children also have to deal with stress. Getting teased in school, not having someone to talk to or feeling unloved are only a few examples. Other stressors such as parents separating, living in a single-parent or blended family, peer pressure, overloaded schedule, school performances or bullying are all factors that can greatly influence your child’s mood2.

As parents, you can observe certain stress signs in your kids1,2,3 :

  • Irritability/sadness
  • Wetting the bed
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being distracted
  • Withdrawal from activities
  • Regressing towards immature behaviours
  • Nervous habits (nail biting, thumb sucking, hair twisting...)

Pay special attention to sudden changes in behaviour in your children. These changes can be indicators that something is bothering them.

What can you do?

With kids, establishing a routine is key. Your kids need to feel secure.

  • A good way to reduce stress is to plan daily activities and allot them specific time frames.
  • Avoid being last minute when you leave the house. This way, everyone will be in a better mood;
  • Encourage your kids and congratulate them for their efforts. They will be grateful that you noticed;
  • Take time to listen to your children. They will feel that they can trust you when they need  to talk about their feelings1,2,3.

Also pay close attention to your child’s nutrition. It has been proven that sugar, salt and fat decrease our physical ability to deal with stress.

  • Choose a balanced nutrition including vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereal and food that is high in protein, but low in fat;
  • Put colour on your plate;
  • Reduce portion size and opt for healthy snacks between meals.

Bad nutrition can harm your metabolism, which generates additional stress to your body.


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