Stress and anxiety are common issues for children – even those as young as preschoolers. While it’s perfectly normal for kids to experience these feelings, it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and anxiety and know how to support your child in managing them.
Also, since children hardly express their feelings accurately, understanding how to identify and prevent stress and anxiety is key to helping them develop healthy coping mechanisms to carry them into adulthood.
Identifying stress & anxiety in children
Every child experiences stress differently. But some common signs that your child may be feeling stressed or anxious include: excessive worrying, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, irritability or sadness, changes in appetite, and physical complaints like stomachaches or headaches. It could be a serious sign if your child exhibits any of these behaviours more frequently than usual.
Preventing Stress & Anxiety in Children
The best way to prevent stress and anxiety from overwhelming your child is by giving them the tools they need to manage difficult emotions. The most effective strategies focus on building emotional resilience — the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges with optimism and hope. Here are some tips for helping your child build emotional strength:
- Encourage open communication: Make sure you create a safe space where your child can talk openly about their feelings without judgment or criticism. This way, they will feel comfortable coming to you when they feel overwhelmed or anxious, so you can help them develop healthy coping strategies.
- Teach problem-solving skills: Helping your child learn how to identify problems and come up with solutions will give them the confidence they need when faced with an obstacle. Show them how breaking down a problem into smaller parts can make it easier for them to tackle it step-by-step.
Model healthy behaviours: Lead by example by showing your child how you positively deal with stress—through activities like exercising or journaling—so they have something concrete to model their behaviour after if needed.