Stress is a normal part of everyday life and can affect any age group. A certain amount of stress is healthy and necessary because it can help a person develop skills to adapt to a new set of circumstances or deal with dangerous and frightening situations.
We see children as innocent, happy, and carefree, but forget that they can worry and feel anxious. Their sources of stress can vary from everyday activity to a more isolated event. Stress, or feeling a lack of control, makes us unhappy and interferes with our ability to respond to everyday tasks and challenges.
For young children, a few stressors can be manageable. However, high levels of constant stress can lead to health and behaviour problems and interfere with their ability to function normally. This overstress causes children to be whiny, clingy, irritable, or more prone to tantrums.
What can you do to help?
- Stay connected
Children who develop secure relationships feel safe and secure and know they have someone to help them with their problems.
Children who experience comfort are better able to comfort themselves. Physical contact, such as a hug is one of the best stress relievers. Research has shown that touch in early childhood helps develop brain pathways that help people cope with stress.
- Home environment
Children manage stress better when they have a healthy, balanced lifestyle with good food, lots of time for physical activity, play and relaxation, and daily routines that make their world feel predictable and safe.
- Relaxation breathing
Help your child calm down using a relaxation breathing technique. Practice taking big breaths and slowly letting it out. Repeating as needed until calm and relax is achieved. Role model and practice along with children when you are experiencing stress yourself.
- Teach children to solve problems
Teach your child to learn the lifelong skill of breaking down a problem and finding a solution by asking questions. What is the problem? How does it make you feel? What can you do? Which solution did you want to try? How well did it work?
Spending time together and appreciating a child’s thoughts and feelings helps prepare them for everyday situations. Teaching them to manage child-sized stress will help them to manage the stress before it becomes overwhelming.
Services related to this information:
- Bridge the gapp
Newfoundland and Labrador’s ‘go-to’ website for mental health information. Bridge the gApp offers self-help resources, links to local services, and invites people to share their personal stories. Bridge the gApp is free of cost and available to every resident in the province. The site is divided into adult and youth sections, however many services are appropriate for both.
- 811 HealthLine / Mental Health Crisis Line (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555
811 is free and confidential. 811 is available 24/7 and can provide support with mental health and addictions issues and more. Services formerly offered by the Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line are now offered by 811. Call 811 to speak with a registered nurse who is also a trained crisis intervener.