Stress is the body’s natural response to external challenges, like making school deadlines or difficult decisions. It’s not always bad and can be an excellent motivator, inspiring kids to adequately prepare for exams, as well as teaching them how to regulate their emotions when the pressure is on.
However, stress child statistics indicate almost 10% of children have anxiety. Intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations can cripple a child’s happiness and inhibit academic, athletic, and social performance. From encouraging exercise to developing healthy coping strategies, Hot Ground Gym can tell you how to help a stressed child.
Sources of Stress in Young Children and Teens
Stress in kids of all ages can be attributed to one or a combination of the following factors:
- Academic pressure
- Significant changes in a family
- Catastrophic news events
- Parental instability
- Overly-packed schedules
- Reading scary books or watching scary movies
- Spending too much time on social media
According to Nationwide’s Children, the effects of stress on childhood development may include lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. Prolonged activation of a child’s stress response can disrupt the healthy growth of brain architecture and other organs.
The absence of social-emotional buffering like relationship support from a trusted adult, and the development of healthy coping mechanisms like physical exercise, determine whether a child’s response to stress will be tolerable or toxic. It’s always important to monitor your kid, as a child stressed about school may need different types of help than a child who has experienced the loss of a loved one or a divorce.
Child Stress Symptoms
What are the signs of stress in a child? These tell-take behaviors indicate your child may be stressed:
- Trouble focussing and completing school work
- Increased aggression
- Hyperactive behavior
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Eating or sleeping disorders
- Overreactions to minor problems
A significant study of children over the ages of 4 found that in 90% of kids, there was no diagnosable disease tied to their stomach pain. Often, when young children complain of stomach aches or headaches, it's a physical manifestation of their stress. Excessive hostility and negative behavior changes may also indicate signs of stress in your child or teen.
When it comes to kids and stress, it's essential for parents to network and chats with teachers. This can help them understand how their child or teens act in the world around them, not just at home. It alerts parents if there’s a real cause for concern.
Stress Management Tips for Kids
For parents, stress management for kids entails reducing stress in their lives, helping them build positive coping skills, and providing them with healthy outlets to alleviate anxiety. Here’s how to reduce stress in kids.
Reduce the Amount of Stress in Your Lives
Parents are often unsure how to help a stressed child. Assessing current schedules and increasing relaxation time is the first thing you should do if your child seems stressed. Children need time to relax and be kids. Unfortunately, even fun sports activities can become competitive, and over-commitment to dozens of activities can stretch kids thin.
Child stress statistics indicate the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem has increased by 50%. Given the prevalence of mental health issues, parents must schedule time for play without attachment to any outcomes. In the case of teenagers, encouraging them to pursue a hobby is a good idea.
Regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which alleviate stress. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences recommends at least one hour of exercise per day for kids aged 6-17 years old.
Our obstacle-course base classes at Hot Ground Gym are excellent stress relief activities for kids. Not all kids enjoy sports, but most love the vigorous and exciting challenge that obstacle-course and team-building fitness classes provide. They have so much fun a lot of the time, they don’t realize they’re exercising, which is vital!
If you’ve noticed signs of stress in your child, get them outdoors. New research found that as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting helped college students feel happier and lessened the effects of both physical and mental stress. Nature excursions can improve life satisfaction, happiness, and mindfulness.
You are wondering how to reduce stress in a child using nature? Depending on your child's age, you might encourage family hiking, planting a garden, or camping trips. While exercising outdoors is a major plus, sometimes a simple break from stressful environments can work just as well, like picnicking in the park or spending a day at the beach.
Let Kids be Problem-Solvers
It’s normal for parents to want to solve their kids' problems, but this doesn’t allow them to develop independence, creative thinking, and trust in themselves. When kids are stressed, it’s better to problem-solve with them until they can do so themselves. At Hot Ground Gym, we have team building classes designed to develop these critical thinking skills.
Kids with anxiety typically tend to catastrophize things, meaning they meditate on the worst possible outcome. Team building classes are excellent stress relief activities for kids because they pivot focus away from themselves towards group efforts, preventing them from over-thinking and catastrophizing.
A lack of sleep has a direct correlation between stress and child development. Parents wondering how to reduce stress in kids should ensure they get enough rest. Children need between 9-12 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is so crucial that a slight deprivation or poor sleep can adversely affect memory, judgment, and mood, contributing to health problems like obesity and high blood pressure.
Keeping to a set daily routine that adheres to the same waking and sleeping times helps regulate children’s sleeping time. For younger kids, it's best to start early with a routine such as reading a book before bed, which allows them to wind down after a long day, and signals to their bodies it's time to rest.
Model Healthy Coping Strategies
There are several healthy ways to mitigate the adverse effects of stress and child development. To help your child deal with stress and thrive, you need to develop robust coping mechanisms:
- Acknowledge their feelings and ask them why they feel a particular way.
- Be supportive and always try to resolve their issues, if appropriate.
- Don’t over-schedule your child with too many activities or place too much pressure on them to succeed.
- Be aware of what your child wants, not just want you to enjoy for their lives. Sometimes kids get stressed trying too hard to live up to their parents' expectations.
In today’s world, it’s not so much how does stress affects child development but when. Stress is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be unmanageable. One of the best and most natural ways to reduce stress is physical exercise. At Hot Ground Gym, we have weekly classes and holiday camps to keep children fit and healthy. Contact us to find out more about our unique training methodology.