Stress is not what happens to us or our children. It is our response to what happens and response Is something we can learn or teach to choose.
As a parent, we want candies and rainbow for our children. we always want their world to be happy, colourful and carefree and we often go extra miles to ensure that. Adults often wish to be kids again for they simply believe that children’s life is all about dolls and dudes. They don’t have to stress about their job, about paying bills, that is true but saying they are stress free would be WRONG.
We, as adults, as caretakers never want even the S of Stress around our kids but as young as 6 years old or even pre-schoolers feel stress up to certain degree.
Last weekend, I was out with my gang of friends (seriously their nothing more relaxing than sipping your favourite coffee and spending time with your BFF’s). I am sure all the toddler’s mommy would totally agree, it’s such a luxury. While we all were sharing our grim and fancies, one of my friend shared her worries about, how his 6 years old is so stressed up. Everybody’s eyes popped out of their heads, STRESS, yes the doctors have diagnosed him as stressed up child.
Causes of Stress
What probably can cause a 6 years old stress, when he can’t even spell the word correctly. Well, there are plenty of reasons. In pre-schoolers, separation from parents can cause anxiety. As they grow up academic, school, friends (feeling to fit in with the group) can cause stress. We, parents, are also sometimes no less than stress beta wake up, khana khao, homework karlo , dance class , sports class and yes our never ending comparisons ( which sometimes we end up doing unintentionally). I, very well remember my time, when we use to have fancy dress competition, the theme was as simple as vegetable seller or national hero and now play schools expect kids to tell about global warming, economic growth. I, don’t deny that times are changing and kids today are way too smart than ever before but do you think is it really justified and to top up we parents are after them to mug up the long, long sentences, dressing them with heavy attires in hoping that our child would win. If at all the little fellow wins, then he /she is our trophy to showcase in every social gathering (trust me I have still seen parents who leave no chance to do that, beti wo gana sunao, beta enact that play)
Symptoms of Stress & Anxiety
Such young kids are often not able to express their emotions well. symptoms are both physical and emotional. But we are not able to identify them like With my friend Devyani , his son showed lack of interest in going to school, he often complained about other kids not talking to him much, stomach ache. she ignored those factors as temporary mood swings, pampered him with his favourite goodies. She just assumed that his baby is trying to escape from the school, or just fooling around and she kept on sending him school despite his unwillingness. Because we as parent, can’t believe that our child is also stressed up. Also, in our society physical bruises speak louder than emotional one. There are some common flags that may indicate that the child is stressed or has anxiety:
1. If they complain of stomach ache, or problem of constipation persist for long.
2. Behavioural changes such as sudden mood change, cribbing even on small issues.
3. Refuse to go to school, making every day excuses not to go.
parents sometime mix up the symptoms as in they think stomach ache could be related to eating bad or headache is associated with tiring day. But if the symptoms are repetitive don’t ignore them .There are sometimes changes that kids are not able to cope up like overly pack schedule, new sibling can make them feel unwanted and jealous. upbringing and parents own response to stress can cause them stress.
Since every child is different, one situation that will stressful for one, might not be stressful for other and so their coping strategies are also going to be different
First and foremost, strategy should be promoting a positive environment, developing a trust factor within child so that he/she can anytime come and share with you. I know kids are masters in creating stories, but we as a parent have to learn to understand when they are cooking up stories or when they are actually in trouble. Listen to them without judging them. make them feel important, never compare them, take their opinions on things that they can help.
Story time, storytelling is one of a very therapeutic approach, with stories kids are able to relate and also hare their feelings. As the story progress kids often ask question, which will help us understand their underlying emotions. Sharing stories which are similar to their situation will give them assurance that they are not alone, they will be able to relate with the emotions. Also it is a great time for parents to bond with the children. If we are not sure about how the kids are feeling, we can ask them questions related to the story. For example, how the character is feeling or what do you think why he did this.
Overly pack schedule, at times leave no time for their self-play, which is very important for their emotional and cognitive development. we want them to be champion in everything they do. Parents want their child to excel in studies, they also want their child to participate in extracurricular activity which burden them resulting in stress. Changing their routine for a day or two will help us understand the reason behind their stress.
There are few things which will surely work to de stress them. Giving them time, with such a busy life all of us are always short of it. Families where both the parents are working, it is all the more difficult to give time. But we can at least devote 15 minutes daily, by talking to them, to know how was their day. Watching television, talking with them while eyes all glued to the phone or whatsapp is not a quality time spend, going to mall , shopping together is surely not a quality time spend with child. There are times I have witness where my child came all excited showing me his new project or his any toy but I was so engrossed with my phone that didn’t even listened him attentively (which I am always guilty about). Gradually I have realised that everything can wait, but these times are never going to come back. Your child is not aware how bad was your day or about your deadline tomorrow, so never let your stress or anxiety come their way.
A strong root will result in a strong tree. So create a positive environment don’t ignore the small changes, help them overcome their fears . tell them they are strong and you are always by their side. Sometimes all they need is someone to listen them and few encouraging words which will go long way in boosting their confidence.