Recognizing and Helping a Stressed Child

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A Safe Preschool for Your Child

We all experience stress to some degree, but because stress is most often related to adulthood many parents think that their child does experience stress. However, this is far from true as they can be affected by a number of things including parental pressure to perform well, or perhaps even by classmates, or school yard bullies.

It is important to make sure that your child feels stress free and secure at a safe preschool as well as in their home environment. As a parent you need to be aware of the emotional changes in your child; you should keep a check on his or her behavior to help you identify what could be wrong.

The first thing to do is to pay attention. Young children may find it difficult to verbalize what is bothering them. Therefore, changes will appear in their behavior. They may act out by being moody or refusing to do activities that used to make them happy. They may cling to you or their teacher and there may be a decrease or increase in their appetites. He or she may have various other reactions such as; bed-wetting, nightmares, confusion, regressive behavior as well as an increase or decrease in their liveliness.

If your child is feeling sick whenever he or she has to go to school, contact their teacher as there may be a problem at school. It is important for you as the parent to keep in touch with the parents of your child’s friends as well as with his or her teacher, so you can keep tabs on any unusual behavior.

To help your child cope with stress you need to make sure that you are available. Take the time to talk to your child, listen to them. However, try to avoid forcing your child to talk to you, just let them know that you are available. Answer any questions that they may have honestly but at a level that they understand – relate to your child. Be consistent with routines and schedules, sometimes a change in schedule could be what causes your child to act out. Don’t be harsh with your child; let them speak freely without fear of being punished for their feelings or thoughts. Encourage your child to play sports or engage in extra curricular activities to allow him or her various ways to express themselves. Remember, your child may not act his or her age when dealing with a stressful situation. Be patient, it won’t always be easy to get your child to open up to explain what is wrong but remember to ensure that no unacceptable behavior will be tolerated either. You need to set boundaries on their behavior and on what is or is not acceptable behavior.

Many children often do not understand what the word stress means and how it could apply to them. To them it could be mere confusion or anger or general worry. You need to listen to your child. Try to find the source of the issue itself and seek professional help. A child psychologist has the necessary training to help your child overcome his or her problems, if you cannot uncover the source of the problem.

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