Stress is a huge concern for many parents and children alike especially with the school year in full swing once more. New school, meeting friends, time management, different routines, peer pressure… you name it, and someone you know and love is probably struggling to deal with it.
Stress has become a Big Bad Scary word in the media lately, but let’s not forget that stress is necessary for our survival and growth as humans. You need to feel stress occasionally to develop and learn, it fuels the fire that makes us uniquely intelligent.
BUT sometimes, too much stress can have negative effects on your health. Chronic, long-term over-stressed people are more likely to experience frequent colds and flues, headaches, sleeping difficulties, muscular tension, lack of focus, and are more susceptible to developing disease.
Look for these 5 signs that your child (or you, for that matter) are “Over-Stressed:”
- Sleep disturbances and night terrors
When the nerve system isn’t adapting to stress well, often the first sign is changes to sleep. Tossing and turning, restless at night, Night terrors and vivid dreams, even waking to urinate more often. These sleep disturbances not only demonstrate over-stress, but may also impact your performance the next day. It can become a vicious cycle.
- Fidgeting, Nervous Habits
When we are over-stressed, our nerve system puts us into constant Flight-or-Flight response. We go on high alert and radiate unused energy. This may present as fidgeting, inability to sit still, racing thoughts, and nervous habits. If your child starts biting their nails before school, twirling their hair, biting their pencil, etc, they may be over-stressed.
- Change in eating patterns
I’m sure we’ve all experienced bouts of stress eating or not feeling hungry when we are highly stressed. Both these changes in eating patterns are a red flag that we aren’t coping with stress well, especially in children! Another sign of anxiety is eating very slowly at certain times, particularly in the morning before going to school, but then back to normal on weekends. This may be your child’s way of telling you he/she is anxious about the day to come.
- Lack of eye contact
If you think your child may be over-stressed, try this simple test: ask them a personal question such as “how did that make you feel?” and see if they look you in the eye when they answer. Avoiding eye contact can be a sign that they feel guilty or wrong, and it can be a sign that they are embarrassed of themselves. Eye contact is critical for good social communication and relationships, so when children start avoiding eye contact, make sure to address the stressors quickly!
- Withdrawn, moody
If your normally peppy kid starts to be withdrawn from conversation and playtime, or gets moodier and short tempered with siblings, this may be a sign that they are struggling with stress. Keep an eye on their interactions with others and if you notice this type of pattern, begin the steps for regaining control of stress and anxiety.
The first step to gaining control over stress is to ensure you have a clear and communicating nerve system. Get assessed by a Family Chiropractor. Your chiropractor may identify interference and disturbances within your nerve system that may be preventing you from adapting well to new stress. Chiropractic care may aide your body’s ability to handle stressful situations better.
The second step to beating stress is to acknowledge it. This comes through communication. Sit down with your child and ask they if anything is upsetting them, if they are worried about something, or simply ask how their day went each day. Help them work through their problems verbally. Even at a young age, verbal communication allows children to form an “Action Plan” for the next time they come across that stressor.
The same goes for adults. Talk to a friend, a partner, or a stranger about what is causing your stress signs. It’s amazing what sharing can do to our ability to strategize and move forward.