As children are constantly growing and learning, we get used to them going through different stages and fussy phases. One day they’ll relish your pot pie and ask for more; the next time you serve it they’ll refuse to take a bite. While these behaviors are typical in growing kids (and sent to make us stronger), if you notice that your child is consistently acting out, is unusually aggressive or irritable, distant, or not sleeping well, they could be experiencing symptoms of stress, rather than a passing phase.
There are many ways that stress can manifest in your kids, but generally, a parent knows when their child is simply not being themselves. They may lose their appetite, throw sudden tantrums, or begin to grind their teeth. Teeth grinding (or bruxism) is actually fairly common in children, with as many as 3 in 10 suffering from it at some point. If your child starts complaining of earache, or pain in the jaw area, then you should check if a dental night guard would ease their discomfort until they outgrow the condition.
Speak Softly to Them
If you or your partner are particularly stressed, it’s not always easy to keep from raising your voices in front of your kids. But your nerves are easily transmitted to your children and fighting in front of them can have a very damaging effect on their mental and physical health. Some studies even suggest that shouting at very young children can permanently alter their brain structure. It can be hard sometimes, but try to make the effort to keep your worries away from your children.
Make Sure They Get Enough Physical Activity
Depending on the age of your child, they’ll have different amounts of energy that they need to burn off during the day, so make sure that they get enough time outside and practicing sports. Physical activity helps promote better sleep and is a great way to relieve tensions.
If you know that your child is having problems with a sibling or family member, change of environment, or separation anxiety, take action to discuss the issue with them. If you have to be absent for long periods of time, don’t just leave abruptly. Reassure them that you won’t be gone for long and make sure that they’re doing something they enjoy as you leave. For sibling rivalry and fights, observe as much as possible what’s going on so you can decide on the right course of action.
Consult with Experts
If you believe that your child is seriously hyperactive or anxious, then it may be necessary to consult with experts, from therapists to your local doctor. There may be mild medications they can suggest that can remove their symptoms completely. If they’re grinding their teeth, that can have a detrimental effect on their tooth enamel, jaw, and even facial features, so consult with a dental care provider to see if a custom night guard would work for your child to ease some of the tension.
It’s hard not to worry when bringing up children, but try not to obsess about their stress, as this will only make things worse for you and your kids. The main thing is to be aware that stress is a condition that can affect us at any age, so lookout for the signs and how to stop them from becoming a problem.