Recognizing and dealing with stress Part 4

Good reminders ladies of how to recognize and deal with stress. It sure is a stressful world for us adults, but what about our kids. Oftentimes a child will mimic their parent's emotional state. So if we are stressed- our children will feel it and could be stressed as well. I know many people who say, "If only I could go back to the carefree days of being a child." Yes, there is less responsibility in our growing up years- but STRESS is still there. I see many kids in my practice and the issues kids are dealing with these days are much worst than when I was growing up. Dealing with friend drama, pressure to do well in sports and with grades, parents fighting or divorcing, perfectionism, temptations of alcohol, drugs, sex, and cutting, body image issues, being over scheduled running from activity to activity, not to mention the crazy things their bodies are doing while they are growing and as they hit puberty. This list could go on and on. As adults we may look at that and say, "Piece of cake. I can handle that." But a child isn't cognitively or emotionally equipped to. This is where a parent's understanding of a child's stress can help support them through it. You might not hear your say "I am so stressed". A child's stress is usually exhibited through their behaviors. Here are some behavioral warning signs to look for:

Crying without a cause

Intense anger

Hitting other children or adults

Screaming over small things (i.e. making their bed)

Problems sleeping

Lying

Nightmares

Significant increase or decrease in eating and/or weight

Digestive problems ("tummy aches")

School problems/ drop in grades

Trouble getting along with friends

Acting out through addictions (i.e. alcohol use, smoking, drugs, cutting, sexual promiscuity)

If you notice your child exhibiting any of these symptoms and their lives are being significantly impaired, try guiding them to use the tips Tammy and Joleen discussed in Part 2 and 3 this week.  You might also monitor their exposure to things on tv and the computer , and talk to their teachers to see if they are noticing these behaviors at school as well. If things don't seem to be getting better it might be time to get a professional involved. Many times just having an objective listening ear can help them find clarity towards a less stressful life! Remember a stressed child can create a stressed family!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.