Coping with Childhood Stress

photo-232

 

Childhood stress is on the rise.  It might seem like childhood is a breeze (they don’t have to worry about the big things in life, right?), but often it is full of stressors big and small.  Many children just keep swimming until they finally sink because they truly don’t know how to cope.  They don’t know what stress is, how it affects them, or how to ask for help.  And they definitely don’t know how to help themselves.

It can be difficult to spot signs of childhood stress, as symptoms of stress are often physical in nature.  That headache that just keeps coming back for more probably isn’t due to dehydration or allergies – it’s probably a function of stress.

Some common signs of childhood stress include:

  • Complaints of stomach aches or headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Behavioral changes (short temper, increased anger, excessive crying, clinginess, etc.)
  • Nervous habits like nail biting or hair twirling
  • Refusal to participate in normal daily activities (school, camp, sports, etc.)

Childhood stress can be triggered by any number of reasons.  Sometimes it’s something external, such as big life transitions or world events, and other times it’s internal, such as the pressure to do well in school and make friends.

Some common triggers of childhood stress include:

  • Transitions (new schools, new teachers, a new baby in the family, moving, etc.)
  • Family problems (divorce, illness, death in the family, fighting between parents, etc.)
  • Over-scheduling (too many activities = stress and exhaustion)
  • Internal pressure (wanting to fit in, wanting to get perfect grades, fear of making mistakes or disappointing parents)
  • School stress (test anxiety is very real and very stressful, bullying, poor relationship with teacher, learning issues)
  • Bad news (major world events can really shake kids up)
  • Scary stories, books, movies, TV shows, games, etc.

It’s essential to teach kids how to cope with stress.  Simply telling them not to worry goes in one ear and out the other.  They need to practice stress relief strategies that they can use anywhere at any time.

Stress relief strategies for kids:

  • Deep breathing exercises:  Teach your child to breathe in slowly for a count of four, hold for three, and release for a count of four.  Deep breathing relaxes the central nervous system and helps reduce stress symptoms such as a racing heart, feeling dizzy, or sweaty palms.
  • Exercise:  Adequate daily exercise helps reduce overall symptoms of stress and anxiety.  Aim for at least 45 minutes of kid friendly (riding a bike, shooting hoops, etc) daily exercise.  Taking a 15 minute walk or kicking a soccer ball when under stress can also relieve the acute stress reaction and help your child open up and talk about it.
  • Worry journal:  Writing down their daily stressors can help kids get their feelings out.  Leave a journal by the bedside table and encourage your child to record her daily stressors and the things that made her happy.
  • Self-talk:  Talking your way through a stressful event can help restore a feeling of control.  Teach your child to talk back to her worried brain and take control over the situation in the process.
  • Consistent sleep:  Consistent sleep helps reduce stress.  Prioritize bedtime and set a good example for your kids by making sure that you get adequate sleep (10-12 for them, 7-8 for you).
  • Adequate nutrition:  A balanced diet helps keep stress under control.  Help your child learn to make the connections between food choices and behavioral reactions.  Be sure to stock your kitchen with plenty of healthy options and teach your kids to cook!
  • Hug it out:  Never underestimate the healing power of a hug.
  • Calming stones:  My DIY Calming Stones over on moonfrye are a great way to help kids feel calm and remember that good feelings are just around the corner.

How do you teach your kids to cope with stress?

Pin It

Old Love is Better

photo-206

“I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles

And the heavens open every time she smiles”

-Van Morrison

Young love is exciting, fun, and full of adventure.  Young love is new, fresh, and full of flirtation.  Young love…is where it all begins.

But old love?  Old love is strong, comforting, and full of admiration and respect.  Old love is togetherness, survival, and family.  Old love…makes the world a better place.

Please stop by moonfrye to read about old love and the comfort of knowing that you’ll cross the finish line together.

For Sean…who understands the power of old love.

Defining Beauty

photo-207

I don’t know about you…but I want my daughter to understand the true beauty that already fills her soul.

It’s not about the fabulous outfits she creates each day.  Although those are pretty spectacular.

It’s not about the giant, chocolate colored eyes that sometimes make me want to weep.  Although those are beyond gorgeous.

And it’s not about the drawings that cover our home and make it just a little bit more inviting.  Although those never fail to brighten my day.

The beauty within this little shining star has nothing at all to do with any of that.

It’s the kindness in her soul that truly makes her beautiful.  It’s the empathy that seems fit for an adult, for someone who has lived beyond six years and experienced all kinds of ups and downs along the way.  It’s the laughter that fills our home with sunshine.  And it’s the love that she saves especially for her baby brother, even when he only wants to play truck stop (again).

Beauty runs right through to her very core.  And although she might not know that yet, I intend to spend the rest of my days making sure that she does.

Please stop by moonfrye to read “A Light in the Heart”.

And while you’re in the mood to read…I’m sharing a few tips on coping with media influence over on EverydayFamily.

Enjoy!

On letting go…

photo-201Sometimes the ocean fascinates me.

Sometimes it makes me feel at home.

Sometimes it scares me.

But most of the time…it reminds me to just let go.

Please stop by moonfrye this week to read more about letting go.

It Takes a Village…

photo-188

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

-Abraham Lincoln 

The moment you bring a child into the world, you enter a social contract of sorts.  A mom contract, really.

You agree to love and nurture that child.  You agree that, to the best of your ability, you will teach right from wrong and help that child grow into an independent and responsible adult.

You agree to accept responsibility for that child along the way, because that child is yours.  Your choices, behaviors, and attitudes will shape that child as he grows.

But you also enter a village of parents.  The cliché is old and well worn for good reason.  It truly does take a village to raise a child.  And, as responsible parents, we all have the opportunity to pitch in and help out when another parent needs a hand.

We don’t, of course, sign any such contract or truly agree to any such terms upon leaving the hospital with our tiny, helpless, bundles of joy.  But wouldn’t it be great if we did?  Figuratively speaking, naturally. Let’s face it; leaving the hospital requires enough paperwork as it is.

But wouldn’t it be nice of we were all on the same page with this parenting thing?

Please stop by moonfrye to continue reading The Mom Contract

On Mothers and Daughters

photo-191

Mother’s Day is almost here…

Please head on over to moonfrye to read about mothers and daughters.

Embracing Differences

photo-185

If there’s one thing that drives me just a little bit nuts, it’s when I hear people say, “We just have to accept people for their differences.”

Acceptance isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Acceptance sometimes implies that you might really want to change something but can’t so you just give up and accept your fate.

That’s not much of a life lesson for kids.

I truly believe that we need to teach kids to embrace differences.  We need to find the positive and highlight it.  We need to show them that different is amazing.

My husband is different.  He always was.  And that difference is everything.  I wrote about him on moonfrye today…please stop by and let me know what you think about raising different.

The Power of Words

photo-183

Words can be powerful.

Words can make or break a day.

And words are not easily forgotten.

Please stop by moonfrye to read more about words of love.

Share the Light

photo-181

“There is more good than bad in this world,

More light than darkness,

And YOU can make more light.” – Peter H. Reynolds

 

We need more light in this world.  Please stop by moonfrye and Make More Light.

And please, pretty please, share the light.

We just need more light.

Transitions

rose

Transitions can be hard.

Little things seem enormous when the babies that once slept peacefully on your shoulder grow and change right before your very eyes.

And forget about the mom guilt.  It doesn’t matter if you work full time, part time, or stay at home.  I’ve spent the past six years making sure that I didn’t miss a beat (even while I worked part time), and still the little changes feel large and life changing.

Kids grow.  They learn, laugh, play, and cry…and all the while they grow up.  As much as we might want to freeze time or screenshot every moment, they just keep moving forward.

It’s exciting and fun and fills you with pride, but is also brings tears and longing.  Because the truth is that each little milestone is a big step toward independence.  And while we might take pride in each moment, big and small, we also know that they are separating.  They are doing what we helped them to do, and yet we want them to stay by our sides.

It’s up and down, this parenting gig.  Highs and lows are everywhere – and the feelings are simply overwhelming.  Rolling waves on the mighty Pacific have nothing on the give and take of letting go and moving forward when what you really want to do is hold them close forever and ever.

But…we have to let go.  In tiny steps, with tears hidden beneath smiles, we have to let go.

This week on moonfrye – Liam made a big change.  He handled just as I knew he would – with ease and comfort.  I, however, am still a work in progress.

And don’t even get me started on Riley’s loose tooth…I am so not ready for big teeth, my friends.

See you at moonfrye!