I am often asked, How can I help my stressed child? We live in a culture full of stress. There is pressure to be involved, pressure to be the best, and pressure to fit in. Some claim that the current generation is exposed to more stress than any previous generation.
Psychologists define stress as “the demand made on an organism to adapt, cope, or adjust.”
When we think about stress in this way it is easy to see that since we live in an ever-changing world and culture the ability to adapt at a young age may be more important than ever.
Psychologists also acknowledge that not all stress is bad and actually claim that some stress (Eustress) is good. Eustress is the type of stress that propels one forward to accomplish the next stage of development or to learn a new and exciting skill. Eustress can be exciting and motivating where as stress can be overwhelming, debilitating and pervasive. So what can be done to help a child that is experiencing the negative type of stress? Researchers have discovered a number of things that when practiced on consistent basis moderate the level of stress that one is experiencing. That is these things help to reduce the negative impacts of ongoing stressful situations.
When one believes that they can, they can. We can instill in our children a sense of “you can do it”. This can be done by supporting them through the learning and development of a new skill or hobby. (Check out this post on Self esteem to learn more)
Hardiness is comprised of the characteristics of commitment, challenge and control. According to research people who are strongly committed to their activities, view challenges as a part of life to spur personal growth, and those that believe they have control over their lives were more hardy and resistant to stress.
Researchers found truth in the biblical saying “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” Proverbs 17:22. One study found that those with an ability to see humor in a stressful situation were less impacted by that stressful situation.
Research has also found that support from trusted family members and friends, decreases the level of stress and depression that people report experiencing in the last month.
How to help your stressed child?
Believe in your stressed child so they can believe in themselves. Provide unique challenges for them and support them in accomplishing these things to build that sense of “I can do it”. Encourage your child to see challenges as opportunities for growth and view them that way for yourself and your family. Laugh at yourself, keep a light heart, and share the connection of humor. Lastly, be there with a listening ear and word of encouragement when the road gets tough. They may act like they don’t need you but we all need the support of our family and friends.
If your child may need the assistance of a professional counselor call 217-231-1413 to talk with Brandy