While you may think childhood was a carefree period of your life, the same thing does not hold true for children nowadays. Stress is a condition everybody suffers, be it adults or children. If we talk about children, they will need external help to deal with and manage their stress as they may  not  even  know  they  are  going  through  any  problem.As cliche as it may sound,  your child is your joy and responsibility as well. You are the first person  who  can  recognize  if  your  child  is in troubled,  anxious  or  going  through  some  stress. Let  me  get  you  started  with  a  few key pointers  to  detect  if  your  child  is  under  stress.

How To Know If My Child Is Under Stress ? 

Let’s  Find  Out- Kids who are under stress often have trouble with their mood and behavior. You may notice slight changes  like  unnecessary  tantrums,  crying,  health  issues  or  getting  irritated  easily.

Further, the child may withdraw from their favorite activities like playing or going outside. Most often, such kids complain of irregular headaches or stomach ache and have a sudden change in their sleeping  and  eating  pattern.

Also, you may notice these kids refusing to go to school and indulging in self-negative talk. That being said, you must remember every child is different and may show other signs of stress. As a parent, it  is  your  duty  to  help your  child  out  and  let   them   know   that   it’s   okay. Now, let me share the few things that as a parent can help you handle the situation and teach your  kid  to  manage  stress  and  reduce  anxiety  in  them.

How  Can  I   Help  My  Child  Manage  Stress  and  Reduce  His  Anxiety ?

1.  Encourage Them To Face Their Fears– If your child is under stress due to a situation that is fearsome for them, it is time to teach them how to face it. The fear of getting in an anxiety provoking situation can further increase the anxiety in your child. However, if you let them know how they can go “one step at a time”, their fears will  variably  reduce  and  the  anxiety  that  kicks  in  will  stop  as  well. If you can’t take larger steps, it’s okay. Just take baby steps. Remember each step counts when it  is  taken  in  the  right  direction.

2.  Listen  To Your Child- Be your child’s best friend and confidante. Listen to them carefully and attentively. Ask them what’s bothering them. You may feel that your child doesn’t want to open up. But sadly, it is farther  from the truth. Most often, children can’t put a label to what they are feeling. This is a time when you can step in and talk to them. Initiate a conversation. Say something like, “ It seems like you’re sad about what happened in the school.” or “how are you feeling today?”. Try emoticons like a happy face, sad  face, joyful, and more. Let  them  identify  their emotions  and  connect  with  it. Make  it  a free flowing conversation  and  let  your  child  share  his  concerns  and problems.It is important to hear them out without any blames, anger, or judgement. When you’ll listen to them, be patient. Let them speak. They’ll know there is someone they can talk to and it’ll help them cope  with  their  stress more easily.

3.  Focus on Positive  Aspects- Stressed or anxious children can often indulge in negative and self-critical talks. This thinking can slowly creep in every aspect of their life and lead to low-self esteem. Your voice becomes their inner voice. You can save your child by teaching him to  see the silver lining under the dark   cloud. Also, remember  your  child  does  what  he  sees  you  doing.You’re the biggest role model for your child.  Before you preach, practice it yourself. Never worry that he is not taking your command, worry that he is watching and observing your actions. Handle your stress in an ideal way and encourage your child to adopt positive thinking as well. You’ll  be  surprised  how small changes  will  reflect  immensely  in  your  child’s  life.

4.  Educate Your Child  To Understand Their Bodies- Your body talks to you. The slight changes can help you detect if you’re overworking yourself or following  a  good  routine. Similarly,  your  child’s  body  goes  through  the  same  process. Educate your child to understand their bodies and the physiology of the stress. Tell them how the butterflies they feel in their stomach on the first day of their new class is okay. However, consistent tummy aches or headaches are a sign that something is not right. It means the child is  undergoing  some stress.

These health issues like nausea, muscle pain, low energy and repetitive complains are strong symptoms  that  your child  is  under  stress.  Just  pay  attention  and  never  ignore  such  signs.

5.  Engage Your Child In Relaxing Activities- School exams, co-curricular activities, home tuitions, sports. These are just few of the activities that  today’s  children  have  to  do  in  a   single  day.  All  work  and  no  play  makes Jack  a   dull  boy. Nowadays, even play (Read: Sports) have become a serious competition for kids and less of a stress buster. I’d suggest you to engage your child in relaxing activities like art or sketching. Just ask  them  to  free draw  anything  they  like  with  their  fingers,  if  you  can. P.S . It’ll also help you analyze what’s going in your child’s mind by taking their color choices into consideration. For instance, picking a lot of darker shades is often considered a sign of aggression. 

You can check the color psychology guides for further analysis of your child behavior. 

Further, this “ ART THERAPY ” can help your child unveil their deep-rooted emotions and thoughts at the sub-conscious level. Some children also feel relaxed when they write out their emotions  or  dance,  for  instance. Help your child figure out what they love and you’ll see a great change in their stress management  and  life  as  well.

6.  Tell  Them  It  Is  Okay  To  Mess  Up- No one is perfect. Now that’s a fact. While everybody around us is aiming for perfection, children often feel stressed or anxiety when they underperform or get bad grades. Tell them it’s okay  to  mess  up  and  just  fine.  Share  your  failed  experiences  and  what  you  learnt  from  them.It’s okay to mess up. Everyone does that. The best part is when you keep going even after a failure.  That’s   what’s   important.

What  Else Can I Do To Make My Child Feel Better ?

There are just a few more things you can practice with your child to reduce their stress and anxiety  issues.

a) Use  positive affirmations with your child and educate them about its benefits. Say things like, “ I am calm. I am peaceful. I am happy. I am beautiful.  ” These small statements will make your little one feel happy and in bliss. Never address your child with “don’t do this that.”. Instead focus  on  saying  “do  this  or  that”.

b) Children become what you make of them. They are like wet clay in your hands. Tell them it is important to be happy. Practice gratitude. Ask them to daily say thanks and offer gratitude for their life and the uncountable blessings they have. This will make them understand the importance  of  being  grateful  and  a lot to be happy for.

c) Practice relaxing exercises with your child. The very basic relaxing exercises like taking three deep breaths or counting from 1-10 backwards slowly can help your kid a great deal to just  slow  down  the  messy  thoughts  and actually  focus  on  the  present. Aggressive children can greatly benefit from this technique to help them control their tantrums and  just  relax.

d) Lastly, you can introduce your child to progressive muscle relaxation. Put on some good and positive instrumental music (You may search Zen Garden on Youtube) and teach your kids to relax  their  bodies  starting from  the  toes  to  their  head. They’ll get a hang of it after 2-3 practices. This body muscle relaxation technique calms the mind  and  helps  release  stress  in  both  children and adults.

e) You can also practice chanting while waking up or putting your child to sleep. OM is a universal mantra that even scientists have found to be highly effective. If you can, teach your children  to  chant Gayatri Mantra. This  will open  up  the  subconscious  power  of  your  child. Finally, Just  Be  There  For  Your  Child. You love your child and they know it. However, this busy life doesn’t let you shower them with love and attention as much as you want. Don’t feel any guilt over it. Children nowadays are intelligent. They understand if you explain your situation with right words and love. Kids today also prefer quality time over quantity. Give your child an hour of love, care, and undivided attention. Never  forget  to  maintain  eye  contact  and  a loving  touch. Play, relax or just listen.

This one hour of quality time will bring your child closer to you and away from any stress or anxiety. If you still feel confused with the behavior of your child, that’s okay. Just ask an expert or a child psychologist who can get your child out of the situation and help you with better parenting tips.

I hope this post was helpful for you and your child. Remember, your child needs you and sometimes just being there is enough.