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Stress Tests: Recognizing Signs Of Stress In Your Child

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Okay, so the holiday stress may “officially” be over (for most of us), but many may still be “recuperating” from all the fanfare and frivolity, and that includes some of the “youngins” who may now have to deal with heading back to school and life getting back to normal.

While experts agree that “some” amount of “stress” and “anxiety” helps keeps us alert and motivated, they also concur that everyone is “different”, has different coping dynamics and that too much of a “good thing” can actually be detrimental, negatively affecting daily routines, activities, relationships and even health. But, the key is a balance between “healthy” and “unhealthy” stress, and, of course, knowing the difference.

Signs Of Stress In Youngster 2 Years Of Age And Younger:

· Difficulty with feeding

· Crankiness

· Increased irritability and crying

· Interrupted sleep

Expressions Of Stress In Toddlers And Preschoolers:

· Lashing out via “deviant” behavior or defying authority or instruction. Also aberrant speech and actions.

· Anger Issues

· Stomach troubles and headaches

· Reduced appetite

· Uncontrollable outbursts of emotions

· Nightmares

· Over attached to parent(s) and whining

Examples of stress in elementary school children: (In addition to those exhibited by toddlers and preschoolers):

· Problems with other children and authority figures such as teachers, etc.

· Lack of focus, concentration or ability to comprehend or complete schoolwork.

· Lack of interest in (age-related) activities and/or events.

· New or continued bed-wetting


Helping Your Child Cope:

· Encourage plenty of rest

· Take time to devote to your child, talk, play with him or her and above all, listen to him/her.

· Think ahead by anticipating “problems” your child may run into and prepare him or her for them and for how to best handle them.

· Discuss (openly) with your child what may be contributing to his or her stress.

· Let your child know that stress is simply a part of life, and that some stress is not only expected but also normal and “healthy”. And, make sure to let him or her know that feeling sad, angry or frustrated (sometimes) is okay and normal. If however you feel your child’s behavior is unusual, persists more than average, or increases, you may want to consult his or her physician or other mental health professional.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Stress Tests: Recognizing Signs Of Stress In Your Child

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