Everyone deals with stress from time to time. In normal doses, it’s healthy. But if left untreated, stress can build up and lead to more serious issues. It can have a particularly large impact on children, who are often not equipped to deal with it.
The education system in Singapore is one of the most highly regarded, but it’s also one of the most stressful. This article explores some of the views of Singaporean children regarding how stress impacts them.
In many cases, children will keep problems to themselves. This can be for a variety of reasons. Although it’s very unlikely to be a fault on your part, it can often leave you feeling helpless. In this article we’ll discuss some of the common signs of stress in children, and how you can help to deal with it.
Signs of Stress
1. Mood Swings
If your child seems happy and upbeat one minute and down and depressed the next, it could be a sign of a deeper problem.
2. Unpredictable Behaviour
Your child might become unpredictable – and almost always in a negative manner. This could include acting out, lying, and even bullying.
3. Changes in Sleep Patterns
Your child may start refusing to go to bed because they can’t sleep. They might also wake you up in the middle of the night because of a nightmare.
If your child is suddenly experiencing issues with bedwetting – and especially if it’s never been an issue before – it could be a sign of deeper issues.
5. Change in appetite
If your child’s eating habits have changed – they’re suddenly very picky about what they eat, or they’re refusing to touch their favourite meal – it could be a sign of stress.
6. New habits
New habits may develop as a result of nervousness. These are often trivial, such as thumb sucking, hair twirling, and nose picking. They might become clingier, or they might try to distance themselves from people.
7. Drastic change in academic performance
If your child is feeling stressed or overworked, their academic performance might take a nosedive.
Sources of Stress
• Family –In young children, separation from parents can cause anxiety. Do your best to make your house a calm, welcoming place. Try to keep children out of conflict, and make sure they know you’re around as a shoulder to lean on when they need it.
• Friends – Does your child have friends? Do they have problems being social at school? Do they feel like they don’t fit in? Are they being bullied?
• Jobs – Stress from working is common in older children who are trying to balance it with school and a social life. Do they have too much on their plate? Are they getting enough time for themselves?
• School – There’s more pressure than ever for children to perform well. Many children are too busy to relax or have downtime to enjoy themselves after school. It’s also possible that they are struggling with a subject in school and need more help with it. For example, if they are struggling with maths, perhaps one on one maths tuition will be beneficial to them.
Helping Your Child to Reduce Stress
• Make sure they get enough rest – 7 or 8 hours per night should be adequate.
• Good nutrition – make sure your child is eating a healthy, balanced diet.
• Good parenting – in today’s busy world, many parents just don’t spend enough time with their children. Listen to their issues and concerns and try to address them. You don’t need to make them talk – especially if they don’t want to. Often just spending time with them is enough.
• Talk about what is causing it – try to come up with solutions. Spending more time together, relaxing the amount of work they have to do, encouraging them to join new clubs and pick up new hobbies.
• Let them know it’s okay – some stress is normal. Let them know it’s okay to be feeling these things and that they will pass.
• Talk about your own worries – if they are refusing to talk about it, try telling them some of your own stresses so they know they’re not alone and it is normal.
Need more tips? Read ‘5 essential tips to overcome exam stress’.