Post written by Chloe O’Hara for healthworldeducation.org
Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of children showing signs of stress and other anxiety-related disorders. Sadly, its effects can go beyond them just having a bad day.
A post by Maryville University on psychology, points to how mental health and learning success is intertwined, which means that children who are unable to deal with stress can experience a myriad of problems during these developmental years. Whether they're in school or at home, it's easy for these mental problems to get in the way of their everyday life.
What's more is that researchers from Ohio State University found that chronic exposure to stress significantly damages cell activity in the brain. If not addressed, it can result in addiction, depression, and even cardiovascular diseases later in life. The good thing is that they can be avoided. So as parents and educators, here are some key techniques to help children manage stress.
Being busy with activities can be good, but never to the point where it gets overwhelming, especially for children who may not know how to juggle multiple tasks yet. If you see them having a hard time trying to balance all their activities, sit with them and ask which activities they actually like doing, or if they are starting to feel too tired. Cut down the number of extra-curricular activities to one or two a week, if needed, or have them allot more time to resting. Not only will they have more energy to invest in their hobbies or passions, it will provide them with more clarity.
You may think that coloring is just filling in shapes with a crayon, but it's actually a focus-driven activity that can be just as stimulating as drawing. It also allows children to “zone out” and momentarily distract themselves from stress-inducing thoughts. To help them get started, Jumo Health has created printable coloring templates to use. All you need now is paper, and a box of crayons. It’s simple, fun and very effective!
The concept of therapy dogs isn't something new, and there's a reason why plenty of parents like to raise their children with pets around. Besides being able to teach a child compassion and responsibility, a study by the University of Florida show how children with furry companions tend to have lower levels of stress than children who don't. So even if it's a huge step, consider the long-term benefits of expanding your family and adopting a pet for your child.
The common way of disciplining children is via negative reinforcement. This means that when your child does something bad, you introduce a form of punishment, like taking away their gadget or banning them from playing with their toys. However, this method is one of the primary causes of stress in early childhood. Positive reinforcement is the more effective behavior modification technique, according to Verywell Family
. This method simply states that you can reinforce a child’s positive behavior by offering a “reward,” like praise, hugs, and tangible rewards like extra playtime. That way, it's a lot less harmful and no bitter feelings are harbored by your child.
Sometimes the simplest solution can be the most effective. Children who don’t get enough sleep are the ones most susceptible to stress and anxiety. You can help by encouraging them to go to bed before a curfew, reading them stories, or playing background music as they drift off to sleep. Make them remove or turn off all distractions in their room, such as the TV and other electronic devices.
Of course, it goes without saying that no two children are the same. Everybody — no matter what age — copes with stress differently. Just be sure to pay attention to any possible signs so you can nip it in the bud before it gets worse. Otherwise, find the solution that is best for your child.