How many times have we adults wanted to be children again to run in the park and to play non-stop. Children don't have to worry about paying the mortgage at the end of the month or turning in the report the boss asked for late on Friday. Children do not have stress or ... maybe yes and parents are not aware of it? During the V Encuentro #ConectaConTuHijo, organized by our site, Úrsula Perona, child psychologist and disseminator, spoke to us about childhood stress and told us the main reasons why children suffer from stress.
Many parents mistakenly think that stress is an adult thing. Unfortunately, stress is not something unique to us, children also suffer from stress. Stress is a state that involves mind and body and is present in the human being from birth. Stress is our body's response to a situation that we perceive as too demanding for us, that we find ourselves without resources to deal with.
It is not bad, as it mobilizes us to face a challenge. For example, if we have a final exam and we do not feel stress, it will be difficult for us to mobilize to study. However, stress ensures that we get the batteries and put that final effort to pass the exam.
However, adaptive stress, the 'good', occurs at specific moments that demands a lot from us, but we are not designed to continually experience stress, which is what happens today: we are stressed daily, or for several moments a day.
As Úrsula Perona explains, there are certain indicators that we can detect in our children to know if they are suffering from stress.
- Changes in behavior
At the behavioral level, there may be important changes, for example, that they are more irritable, more nervous, with excess movement, a little hyperactive ... 'It is something similar to what happens to adults, that when we are stressed Any comment makes us feel bad and annoys us, 'explains Úrsula.
- Child sleep disturbances
Stress also affects young children at bedtime: they delay going to bed, they are too active, they don't want to sleep, or they start to have awakenings during the night.
- Variations in behavior
Stressful situations cause children who usually behave well to transform their attitude. They are rebellious, they do not obey, they rebel ...
- Physical signals
There are many children who manifest stress on the body, for example, through atopic outbreaks on the skin, gastric problems or headaches.
- Backtracking situations
On the other hand, there are cases of children who can pee in bed again or who got very good grades and begin to lose concentration.
Many studies have been done trying to find out what is behind childhood stress and discover the factors and causes of this situation in children so young. Among the main child stressors would be:
1. Excess of homework and extracurricular activities
Unfortunately, in this society, children are overloaded with homework, with excessively long hours (after their school day, many continue with extracurricular activities and, afterwards, they also have to do homework). They are days too long and often without breaks or interruptions.
2. Parental stress
Perhaps this is the reason we least like to hear, but when a child is asked what stresses them, many say their own parents. Unintentionally, adults transfer stress to children: we are overwhelmed, we are always in a hurry and we are very nervous. We must not forget that children are like sponges that assimilate our state.
3. Situations that live outside the home
Luckily for parents, it's not all up to us! There are external stressors, such as problems they may be experiencing outside the home at school or with friends.
4. New technologies
It is a relatively recent element: new technologies. It is a stressor for children to always be hyper-connected; so is the too early access they have to social networks, where they start to worry about issues that are traditionally more adult, such as body image, fashions, likes ...
If we see that our children are stressed or in general the family climate, it is best to stop to analyze what may be happening and what may be behind this situation:
- If the stress is related to the parentsWe should address our own stress, and it is that as Úrsula Perona says, 'if you are not well, you cannot educate well'. Sometimes we get so caught up in parenting that we neglect our own needs and, hence, comes the stress that we hit children, in addition to the impatience we show when it comes to educating. Let's ask ourselves what we can do to change that and learn to relativize and be more flexible! We have a whole life to educate, because one never retires from being a father or mother.
- Regarding the subject of homework and extracurricular activities It is everyone's job to be aware that our children are immersed in an educational system that requires too much of them. We should rationalize homework, because it makes no sense and no efficiency to oversaturate children with homework and homework after school. Something is wrong and it is everyone's job to reflect and do everything possible to change this.
- 'As teachers we have to be realistic in the time required for the tasks we give the children. I tell the parents that they should be in frequent communication with the school, transmit their doubts or how we see our children to the teachers, that there is communication and coordination! ', Says Úrsula.
- Another important aspect: organize and plan afternoon time so that there is the possibility of rest and play in the open air, and then a time for homework. Give you the ability to 'unplug' and recharge batteries before homework. Some parents mistakenly put their children to do homework as soon as they arrive, and after 6/8 hours at school the child needs to rest. Also put a time limit: not for dedicating hours and hours to study, this is more effective.
- As parents, we must teach him to identify that stress and to control it. For example, we can prepare a magical corner or a place free of stimuli and with little light, and inside we put their little things: cushion, a toy, headphones to listen to music ... When the child is stressed, that will be their refuge !
- We can also perform relaxation techniques, how to teach him to breathe consciously to calm himself. We are going to have to provide him with several tools so that he can choose at all times which technique to use, because it can happen at school or at home.
- Something that works very well with children is drawing and, in most cases, children do not know how to express their emotions and through their artistic creations we can find out what is wrong with them or, at least, intuit something. With the simple fact that he tells us that emotion, the child is already channeling it, he is no longer keeping it. The child opens up and expresses itself, and that is already healing.
- With the issue of new technologies, parents must be aware that the responsibility is ours. 'Before the age of 12, I do not recommend mobile or social networks. It is true that we cannot isolate ourselves, but we must, as parents, set limits on what will be the use of the different devices, as well as have access control and talk about the dangers that exist in the network at the time , for example, to expose their photos', explains this psychologist.
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