By virtualpa, Feb 12 2016 11:00AM
As a parent, you’ve probably realised that things are a little different for your children than when you were young.
Children from age 5 (or year 1) upwards have homework, 7 year olds have SAT’s and children are put under far more pressure than they were when we were children.
Some children thrive under this additional pressure and of course many are achieving fantastic exam results and have extremely bright futures. However, for others the pressure might be a little too much. As parents, your job is to recognise the signs of stress in your child and help them as best you can.
Signs of stress
The first sign of stress in a child is often a change in their behaviour. They might become irritable, moody, withdrawn, tearful or withdrawn. They might also become clingy or show changes in their sleeping or eating habits.
They could also have physical symptoms such as stomach aches, sickness, or headaches. You might notice that these “illnesses” flare up at certain times, such as before school or when a test is due.
You might also notice that they fall out with friends. This is easy to explain if you think about their behaviour. It’s likely that if you’ve noticed a change in the way they’re acting, their friends have too.
The idea of looking for signs of stress in a young child sounds like a frightening thing. They’re children and they shouldn’t be feeling stress. However, that doesn’t mean you should ever dismiss their feelings – just because they might not be able to demonstrate or discuss their feelings in the same way as an adult doesn’t mean those feelings aren’t as valid.
What to do
Having a child as young as 5 showing signs of stress can be an extremely frightening and worrying time, but there are things you can do.
Firstly, speak to your child. Let them know you’re aware they’re having a hard time and that you want to help. They might not open up the first time, but by letting them know you’re there, they might feel confident to in the future.
Next, speak to their teacher or principal to find out what’s going on and why it’s affecting your child as much as it is. It may be that they’re struggling in a particular area that you can give them extra support in.
You can then add a distraction to their lives by finding fun, family activities which don’t have anything to do with what’s going on at school. There are physical things you can do such as going for walks, runs or playing on bikes, you could visit the zoo or the park but whatever you do choose, make a rule that nobody is going to talk about school work.
Finally, consider an after or outside of school club which doesn’t focus on academic success and gives them a change of pace. If you’ve never considered a Performing Arts class, why not pop by to see what we do and the difference it could make?