We tend to associate stress with the pressures and responsibilities that come with growing older. School-age children, teenagers, and adults are expected to experience a certain amount of stress as they pass various stages and milestones in their lives, but our little ones experience stress too.
In fact, young children are far more sensitive to minor changes or disruptions in their environment, and they are often more aware of our moods and emotions than we think they are. So, something that may seem like a small distraction to the rest of the family, can trigger a stress response in young children.
Examples of Stress Triggers in Young Children:
- Separation anxiety when primary caregivers are absent
- Weaning and general changes in dietary routine
- Teething causing pain, discomfort or lack of sleep
- New sibling coming home, or other additions to the household
- Changing caregivers, or starting at an early learning centre
- Moving to a new cot, bed or bedroom
- House moves, holidays and changes in routine
- Potty and toilet training
- Loss/absence of a family member, friend or pet (even if temporary)
- Absence of a significant caregiver or parent (e.g. working away, divorce)
- Health issues or anticipation of medical visits (e.g. scared of vaccinations)
- Excessive arguments or emotional fallout within the household
We can’t expect to be able to shield our little ones from all stressful situations or triggers and it’s important for children to experience some stress, helping them to adjust, develop and learn from their experiences. However, it does help us to bear in mind that everydaystresses, no matter how small they seem to us, can impact on the behaviour of our little learners
Tips & Tricks to Reduce Stress Levels:
Listening and showing respect
If your child tells you about something that they find stressful or worrying, do not make light of it. It may seem insignificant to you, but to your child, this is something causing them concern. Be glad that they trust you enough to reveal their feelings to you and take their worries seriously, giving advice if they need it.
Try to maintain routines
Children tend to thrive when they know what to expect and what is expected of them. Establishing routines for eating, sleeping and childcare can help your child feel in control as they know what is happening and when.
Spend quality time together
Children have the marvellous ability to work through their problems and worries simply by playing. So, spend time together and you can support your child by engaging in pretend play or some creative hands-on activities. This can include reading together and physical play which is always good for letting off steam.
Adults often find a walk in the great outdoors can clear our heads and help us to feel calmer. Children also find that fresh air and time around natural surroundings is beneficial for their well-being. Try walking together or visiting a park or playground.
*Always seek medical help if you are concerned that your child is not dealing well with a stressful situation or stress in general. Your family GP will be able to talk this through with you and offer more professional guidance.*
Here at Cherry Bridge Station, we offer a curriculum packed with fun play-based learning and plenty of mental and physical activity to help our little learners be as happy and carefree as all children deserve to be. Our educators will be happy to discuss any concerns families may have about particular stresses that their child may be facing.