As full-fledged parents used to dealing with adult responsibilities, it may be hard to fathom how or why a child feels stressed. But childhood does present unique stressors that are often so subtle that adults overlook the warning signs.
The truth is, children lack the maturity to recognise stressful feelings, and aren’t equipped with the coping skills and language needed to express their emotion. It is our job as parents to recognise the warning signs and help our little ones de-stress.
Here are some common signs that shouldn’t be missed, and what to do.
Things to look out for:
Stressed out children usually display physical, emotional or behavioural signs. Look out for changes in typical behaviour and keep track over a few days – if you spot multiple symptoms over a prolonged period, it may be time to intervene.
- Irritability or aggressive behaviour
- Low tolerance levels
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Shifts in eating habits
- Tummy aches
- Having nightmares
- Increase in temper tantrums
- Separation anxiety
- Withdrawn behaviour
- Refusal to attend school
Alleviate your toddler’s stress with these tips:
Spending more time together
Reconnect with your little one through relaxing activities that your child enjoys. Whether it’s going to the park for a walk, watching their favourite movie, or playing a game together, this quality time might make a huge difference in soothing your child.
Reassure your child
Especially for children facing separation anxiety, help your little one feel safe by staying close to them. Give them physical comfort through loads of hugs, and gentle reassurance that you’ll always be there for them, even if you have to leave while they’re at preschool.
Beyond recognising warning signs, pay attention to potential triggers – sensory issues, overcrowding, fear of strangers, etc. could be what’s stressing your child out.
Your toddler won’t understand what stressful emotions are just yet, but helping them recognise these feelings will make it easier to figure out coping methods that actually work. Every child responds to stress differently, so let your child know that it is normal to feel stressed, and that it is something that everyone deals with.
Seek professional help
If nothing seems to be working despite your attempts to help your child, consider seeking professional help. All that matters is your child’s wellbeing!