Adults often reminisce about their carefree childhood. They forget that those days were not always so stress-free. Children don’t have to worry about paying the bills or losing their jobs like adults do—but there is plenty in life that might be concerning them, including:
Too much going on. Many children leave school and go directly to sports, music lessons, or other activities. Extracurricular activities can provide many benefits, but if your child has no downtime, they can also cause stress.
Disagreements with friends. Children have arguments with their friends just like adults do. They need to learn ways to deal with their disagreements without losing their close friends.
Fears about the world around them. Stories about school violence, natural disasters, and political turmoil are prominent on every news source. The Internet makes it difficult for parents to control when and how their kids hear such information, which can cause significant worry for some.
Concern about school performance. Most children experience stress about how they’re doing in school at some points. Struggling students in particular can spend much of their day feeling inept. They need help figuring out what the root of the school problems are and figuring out what to do about them.
What can parents do to help? If you notice that your child seems unusually stressed or unhappy, talk to her about it. Use a tone that conveys that you genuinely care about what is happening rather than a “What is it now?” kind of tone. Children, particularly boys, often have trouble expressing their emotions, and helping them identify their feelings can be helpful. You can say, “You seem to be worried about something. What’s on your mind?” This may open the door for a heart-to-heart conversation about what your child is finding stressful.
As well, help your child think of positive ways to relieve his stress. Children need exercise and creative play time. They might need a healthy snack or to get some extra rest. Encourage your child to do something really fun that takes his mind off his worries.
And if you think the stress is school-related, seek help for your child there. Call your child’s teacher or the school psychologist to ask for a meeting.