LITTLE THINGS ABOUT
Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah
Stress is a normal part of life and we all know that kids today are dealing with more of it than ever before. Overscheduled lives, chaotic home situations, school pressure, and social concerns can take our children to the breaking point. We need to help the little ones learn how to cope with everyday issues by developing skills in communicating, problem solving and relaxation.
Children who do not have an available repertoire of coping skills can easily turn to rage, violence or self harm when upset and vulnerable. On the other hand, when we work to help kids develop a full toolkit of positive coping skills, we give them alternatives that can help them turn problem situations into positive outcomes.
Simple and effective strategies for helping kids cope with tough times are worth thinking about. For example, listening to our children is often helpful for them to be able to express their feelings and concerns, and to ask questions about what to expect. When we give them that little special attention, they feel they are not facing things alone. Sitting down and having a heart – to – heart with a focus on listening can help children to practice processing their emotions, a healthy coping skill which they can use again and again.
It helps if we try to normalize stress. We need to make sure our children understand that frustration and stress are part of everyone’s life. The little ones can have difficulty in seeing the perspective of other people. They may incorrectly believe that they alone feel this way which can be very isolating. It has been seen that parents and caregivers helping kids realize the universality of stress can be a welcome relief.
We need to help our children identify stressors. There may be particular things or activities than can cause anxiety, and they usually differ from child to child. Some children love big noisy gatherings in parties or shopping malls or parks while others may panic at the thought of such activity. Some get anxious when working under deadlines, while others thrive on it. The key is to help each child identify where the pressure is coming from and then help them in handling it or avoiding it.
Some children aren’t as comfortable just opening up about their thoughts and feelings, and can be encouraged to talk things out by getting involved in a shared activity. Even if it doesn’t involve a personal talk about feelings, spending time with a parent and doing comforting activities can be great for stress relief. Knowing how to engage in calming activities when stressed is a great coping skill to have – a game of footfall, a special song, a crazy movie – there’s something special for everybody. Spending that little extra time together helps us see better how our little ones are faring, so that we can intervene when necessary.
While we can’t completely shield our children from whatever crisis is occuring, we need to minimize their exposure to the stress where possible. Turning of the T.V. is a good idea if we are facing a natural disaster or other highly reported stressor which scares them when they see it or hear about it. It is good idea to maintain routines as far as possible be it meal times, bed time, other family activities, so that the rhythm of normal scheduled activity is present even when there is a stressful situation to face or handle.
Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah is Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Guwahati Medical College. She can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org