Children of all ages may react to upsets within their environment. Parent interactions/conflicts, moving, family financial concerns, a family member leaving the home, behavior problems with siblings, a death of a family member or health problems in family members may contribute to your children’s stress as well as the parents. School-age children may have conflicts with other students, peer pressure, taking tests and wanting to excel and make good grades may also add to their stress.
It is important to recognize your child’s symptoms of stress, which may be exhibited physically, emotionally or behaviorally. Infants may show increased crying, fussiness or may be sleeping more. Older children and teens may demonstrate physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, back pain, neck stiffness, constipation, diarrhea, weight loss or gain or twitches, especially on the eyelids or face. Indigestion, overeating or loss of appetite, skin problems, inability to sleep or nightmares, excessive sleeping or constant fatigue may also be some physical signs of your child’s stress.
Emotionally, children may have mood changes, lack of concentration, panic attacks, anxiety, anger, irritability and crying. In teens, emotional symptoms may become more severe such as thoughts of suicide, depression, feelings of helplessness, and aggressiveness.
Behaviorally, younger children may display nail-biting, grinding their teeth (particularly at night in their sleep). Once these signs of stress are recognized, it is important to find some intervention to help them. There are many alternatives that may also help your child to cope with the stressors in their lives including:
Infant Massage Instruction is taught by a Certified Infant Massage Instructor to parents of infant’s birth to pre-crawling to help with calming the infant. Infant massage is a tool for maintaining a baby’s health and well-being on many levels. It helps parents feel secure in their ability to do something positive for their infant and get a positive response from them. Massage enhances loving communication and nurtures parenting skills between caregivers and the infant. While giving the massage, the parent is focusing only on the infant who is listening to the parent’s voice. They develop a trust through the parent’s eye contact and vocalizations. Massage helps parents to understand and respond appropriately to the infant’s nonverbal cues. It may help to relieve symptoms of gas and colic. Massage helps infants to be aware of their own bodies, their tensions and how to release them. It may improve circulation by promoting blood flow through the skin, muscles and organs. When a parent’s infant is very fussy, sick or has special needs, massage may enhance the parents’ sense of competence in dealing with their difficulties. Once the parent is taught the basic infant massage strokes, they may adapt these strokes as the child ages to two and above.
Aromatherapy using various essential oils such as lavender may be used in a diffuser at night or massaged on their feet may help them to relax and calm, providing a good night’s sleep.
Reiki is a technique used to help people to relax and calm. It does not have any side effects like medication and is now being used in many hospitals and cancer centers as a means to calm and heal. Parents may learn Reiki so they can help their children on a daily basis. Reiki given to children, who have had an injury or a burn, may show signs of more rapid healing.
Other activities and therapies to help children cope with stress may include: Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for children, Hypnotherapy, and Mindfulness or Meditation.
For more information on children’s stress and alternative methods of helping them cope, you may contact, Debra George, Holistic Occupational Therapist/Reiki Master/Certified Infant Massage Instructor at the Golden Light Wellness Center in Oxford at 610-932-9511.
By Debra George, OTR/L
Did you know that children of all ages experience stress?
Are you able to recognize your child’s symptoms of stress and do you know how to help them deal with their concerns?
Copyright 2018. Write-Well Handwriting Clinics and Children's Occupational Therapy Services. All rights reserved.