Most times you'll have to choose between having a clean and tidy home or having your children happy. We know that living in a spotless and healthy environment is good for your well-being. Still, when our kids are unhappy, stressed out, and openly having tantrums, suddenly, our priorities change.
In this blog, we present you with some helpful ways to manage stress in children, recommended by experts and well-known institutions, and well organized for your better understanding. Aimed at toddlers, kids, and teens, these tips can be useful for many situations, like small tantrums, worrisome behavior changes, and stress caused by the current pandemic. Keep reading!
What causes stress in kids and teens?
The American Psychological Association (APA) summarizes that our children have three primary stress triggers: tension at home, significant life changes, and the responsibilities and social interaction at school. Physiological factors (like not sleeping, not eating well, and sickness) are important causes, but if you want to tackle the root of the problem, focus on the more complex sources. Bear with me: there are concrete and straightforward solutions for stress, but first, we have to acknowledge the bigger picture.
Tension at home
A family discord like a divorce or a difficult situation between household members is a common stress trigger for kids and teens. Sometimes, parents can cause tension in their children without noticing it, perhaps overwhelmed by work and responsibilities. Try to break the cycle!
Big life changes
Last year, we all experienced a big life change as we entered a global health crisis. Parents can overlook these factors because adults need to adapt to changes quickly, and kids still don't have that sense of responsibility. Not going to school, being unable to see their friends—those situations are tough for children.
A new stepparent, a change of residence, or even the apparently happy changes like the arrival of a new little brother or sister can be hard to process as well. Stay alert for subtle signs of stress and bad behavior when this occurs.
School is a frequent source of concern for kids and teens. A survey made by APA shows that school is one of the principal stressors in teenagers: "83% of the teens surveyed said the school was a significant source of stress." Making new friends, getting along with teachers, dealing with bullies, and, most of all, working on getting good grades can be the leading causes of anxiety. And while peers can be a stress reliever sometimes, they can also cause it. The so-called peer pressure and the fear of not fitting in are prevalent among teens.
Signs of stress
Acknowledging stress is the first step to protect our kids' health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), long-term stress is linked to an extended list of physical and mental health problems like a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, and depression. Be sure to detect and treat the following signs of stress in your child.
Trouble sleeping or eating
Sleeping too much (or not enough) can be a sign of stress. If your kid has trouble falling asleep or complains about being tired more than usual, pay attention. Also, sudden changes in feeding habits could be signs of anxiety lurking in their state of mind.
Irritability and anger
This is the most common consequence of stress—and not only for kids! We, adults, get irritated when stressed out, so it's normal that our children feel this way too. The crucial difference is that children don't always have the words to describe their feelings, and it's up to us to detect, acknowledge, and propose solutions to avoid conflicts. Stay alert for tension signs, like being short-tempered or more argumentative than usual.
Dropping the ball on homework, procrastinating, or simply forgetting about obligations might be stress signs. Sudden indifference is often more frequent in teenagers, who are more prone to reject authority.
Getting sick frequently
If your kid is not eating and sleeping well or is concerned about school, their body might respond with a weakened immune system. Early signs are frequent headaches, stomach aches, colds, and nosebleeds.
Other changes in behavior
Be on the lookout for other odd behavior changes that don't fit with your kid's usual manners and personality. For example, if your child used to be a patient, good listener, and now is suddenly acting out, that could be a meaningful sign. Also, a playful kid that abruptly doesn't want to leave their room is another primary example.
Proper ways to deal with stress
Global organizations like UNICEF, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the already mentioned APA offer great advice for parents regarding bad behavior and stress in their kids, especially during the current pandemic. This type of content was highly requested due to the crisis. Parents had to protect their families against economic uncertainty and frightening events and, at the same time, spend more time with them during homeschooling sessions and the general home lockdown.
Next of all, we gathered the most-talked-about and recommended parenting tips to manage stress on their kids.
Create a healthy routine
People of all ages need daily routines to reduce stress and anxiety. Our brains work that way—we feel calm when predicting our next activity, like having our meals on time and scheduled moments of idleness. Balanced and nutritious meals, plenty of sleep, and daily exercise are essential good practices. Don't let old routines be forgotten—update them or establish new ones! You can break schooltime and include quick and useful home chores or fun activities that help your children release stress and tension. Spend time with them as consistently as possible, ensuring that they have plenty of fun and feel stimulated. If you schedule those activities at the same hour, they'll gladly expect that moment and feel loved and calmed.
Let children have a choice
Let your kids have a choice regarding the idle time you spend together. What are their interests? What hobbies do they enjoy? Also, don't try to solve all your children's problems. Practicing self-confidence is one long-term solution for managing stress. Let your small kids solve their low-stakes issues, and they will learn healthy coping skills.
Be clear and create expectations
When dealing with tantrums or other inappropriate behavior, making expectations clear will promote cooperation. Even if your kid "should" know what to expect (let's say, during a long drive or a homeschooling session), clarifying expectations and responsibilities are crucial.
One quick example is during transitions between playtime and chores. Many kids will get upset if suddenly they have to stop doing what they enjoy, so always remember to establish a simple schedule to follow and explain upfront why it's important to follow it. Some kids will be harder to deal with; if that's your case, you have to learn more about transitions and how to manage them.
Keep things positive
The current pandemic showed us the value of keeping things positive. UNICEF recommends “saying the behavior you want to see” and “praise your child when they behave well;” however, staying positive goes beyond that. Keeping a calm temper is challenging in trying times, but you have to give your best effort for your kids. Before answering with a shout or giving commands with rough authority, take a deep breath, and re-think your words. Things will come out better.
Stay creative and go outside (with caution)
If you have the time, engage with your kid in creative activities like learning a musical instrument, drawing, or writing short stories. These kinds of projects allow children to stay focused, calm, and express themselves. Also, doing sporadic outdoor activities like hiking, exploring, or simply visiting the park is an effective way to relieve stress.
How to reduce stress in kids is an extensive and complex topic. You can keep learning for years to come; just always stay open to new knowledge and experience. Consult UNICEF and APA if you want more details.
Also, being a good parent and having a clean and tidy home can be extremely challenging to do. Ask for our wide variety of cleaning services or book it right away on our website.