Stress: 8 Articles

Learn the signs of anxiety and stress in children and teens

Helping Children Find Their Light in Dark and Scary Times

Fear can be debilitating for children, especially when it arises from a situation such as parental illness or another major change that increases their vulnerability. The COVID-19 pandemic has created this situation for many families and children.  In her note to parents and caregivers, Ani’s Light author, Dr. Tanu Shree Singh provides guidance about supporting a child through difficult situations with empathy, caring, and honesty. Honest matters. Our first instinct in a difficult situation might be to protect our child by keeping the truth from them or creating tall tales.Though we assume they won’t  understand, hiding the truth rarely helps. Children have a built-in lie detector, so it’s best not to lie to your child or hide basic information. Whatever the situation, share information in age-appropriate words. There are many books that deal with all sorts of difficult topics, including illness, loss, divorce, and more. These can be a great starting point for conversation. It is ok not to know the answers. Some questions have no clear answers, but don’t avoid them. It is okay to not know, and even better to address and accept the uncertainty together. As a parent, sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with the need to give factual answers. However, questions around death and uncertainty might have no clear answers. To accept that with your child is to take a step closer to healing. Help your child deal with their emotions. Acceptance of emotions is an important part of healing and promoting resilience. Let your child know all emotions are acceptable. It is also essential for them to know that bad things can happen in life and it is no one’s fault. Learning to cope and manage our feelings is what makes the difference.  Routines are important. Routines give a sense of security to a child. A consistent schedule and familiar faces create a sense of normalcy. Stick to regular patterns, from bedtime to school routines, as much as you can. Everyone is creating new daily routines during the pandemic. Do what works for your family. Plan for fun. Children need a break. Sometimes we get so caught up in managing problems that we forget that children need doses of fun. Try to schedule some fun time together. Seek help. Life gets overwhelming when illness or huge changes are taking up all our time and energy. In such situations, such as those created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be vigilant and seek professional help as needed.  Ultimately, the heart and mind have an enormous capacity to heal. All we can do as a parent is to be there and help our children learn to see love, grow resilience, and be reassured that letting the light in can help them through dark times. To find a therapist near you, use the APA Psychologist Locator.

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Helping Children Find Their Light in Dark and Scary Times 2020-05-06T11:42:08-04:00

Recognizing Anxiety in Children: How to Spot and Identify Symptoms

We're all feeling anxious in the era of COVID-19. Our daily routines have been disrupted, simple tasks like grocery shopping are now much more complicated, we're separated from from friends and family, and there's the possibility of becoming infected. Some families are also experiencing financial distress or have lost family members to the virus. As an adult, you know what stress and anxiety feel and look like for you, but how do children exhibit these emotions? This repost from 2018, describes how to identify anxiety in your child and how to help. The world is big and new to young children, and...fears of the unknown are common. For parents of young children, watching your son or daughter exhibit potential symptoms of anxiety can feel particularly distressing. As a parent, you strive to make childhood a carefree, joyful time. But even in loving, safe, and supportive households, issues of anxiety can still come up. If you suspect your child is showing signs of anxiety, it’s important to first understand that you are not alone. In fact, it is estimated that between 12% and 24% of American children suffer from psychological disorders at some point in their development.¹ The good news is, there are many resources available to help your child manage anxiety and get back to the business of being a kid. Parents often feel confused (and anxious themselves!) when trying to navigate anxiety issues. Taking it one step at a time can be helpful. First, you’ll want to determine if your child is experiencing anxiety—or simply feeling an appropriate amount of worry for their age. What is the difference between anxiety and worry? One of the most important markers of anxiety is proportion. A child suffering from an anxiety disorder may be overwhelmed by intense fear or worry that do not match the situation.2 For example, a child suffering from separation anxiety may be so consumed by fear that something bad will happen when away from their parents, they may refuse to go to school. It’s normal for a child to experience some hesitation when leaving their parents, but if it is impacting their ability to enjoy time with their friends or leave their parents’ side, it can be considered more than an ordinary worry. Children experience a myriad of fears that can be elevated from worry to anxiety. In addition to separation anxiety, fear of the dark, strangers, doctors, and even a fear of rejection by their peers are just a few common worries. Whatever the worries are, and no matter how trivial they may seem to an adult, their concerns should be taken seriously. The world is big and new to young children, and therefore fears of the unknown are common. What are signs of anxiety in children? Keep in mind that every child is different, but there are some typical signs of anxiety in children. Symptoms tend to present themselves both physically and emotionally. You may find that your child asks the

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Recognizing Anxiety in Children: How to Spot and Identify Symptoms 2020-05-05T15:37:37-04:00

Kids Feeling Stressed? Try This Mental Health Checkup & Toolkit!

Who would have ever guessed that words like coronavirus, COVID-19 or pandemic would become part of our daily vocabulary? When stressful times occur, like now, it’s just as important to make sure we are feeling good emotionally as it is physically, because your mental health is your first line of defense to staying healthy. One scientifically proven way to boost the immune function is by thinking and acting optimistically. In other words, dreaming and setting life goals can be good for your health! Dr. Sara E. Williams, one of the authors of Magination Press book, Dream It! A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness, provides a Mental Health Checkup & Toolkit to help your family learn an optimistic mental health strategy that will not only teach them how to manage their stress and stay physically healthy but also get them excited about the future.  Before learning about the toolkit, here’s some important information about the stress response. How fear and stress cause illness When the mind and body are in a state of fear and stress, our autonomic nervous system (the body’s “engine”) revs up and hits the gas pedal, giving us lots of extra energy to protect ourselves. This is also known as the fight or flight response. Then, when the danger has passed, our body slows down and hits the brakes, which allows us to recover and restore. This is known as the rest and digest response. This balance of “on” and “off’ works great until we hit a period of chronic stress, in which case our body stays in the fight or flight response for longer than usual. This becomes a drain on the body’s resources and doesn’t give us enough time in the rest and digest cycle to restore and rebuild. Instead of stress wearing us down, managing stress can help us be strong and healthy. Here’s the Good News! You can learn how to turn off the fight or flight response and put your body in the rest and digest cycle. You do this by changing your thoughts and actions in optimistic ways. These stressful times provide the perfect opportunity for your family  to learn a few strategies to not only survive, but thrive in the face of stress. As a parent, you are your children’s most important role model. Showing them how you handle stress will go a long way to help them manage their own stress.  Overall, the goal is to acknowledge that stress is part of life—stress can be big, small, and every size in between. The most powerful thing we can do is teach children how to handle stress in a healthy way both physically and emotionally. This lets them make a positive, intentional change in their lives. Learning skills like self-awareness and self-management can help your child learn to effectively identify and manage stress. Learning and practicing these skills leads children to develop physical and emotional resilience, and acceptance that even when challenges occur in life, they have the ability

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Kids Feeling Stressed? Try This Mental Health Checkup & Toolkit! 2020-04-29T20:49:44-04:00