Stress is all about how we respond to the demands placed upon us. These demands often come from external sources such as parents, school or friends. Demands can also come from within and are often related to what we think we “should be” doing versus what we're actually able to do.
Children experience stress and it can be triggered by a whole range of factors. Academic pressure, peer pressure, social pressures (especially the need to ‘fit in’) and an excessively busy week can create stress for a child or teenager. Internal or external stresses to children can be impossible to detect by those closest to them. It often needs a professional who is able to observe what goes on each day to determine triggers. Of course obvious events, such as worries about problems in the world, a relative’s illness or parental conflict can also create feelings of anxiety and stress.
Signs your child is experiencing stress may include:
- change in appetite
- no longer engaging in activities they used to find enjoyable
- constant “negative” comments about themselves or others
- avoiding school
- decreased motivation
- change in sleep patterns
If untreated, extreme stress can lead to other problems including depression, eating disorders, self harm, challenging behaviour, anxiety disorder and anger and aggression. Stress is a natural part of life, even for young children. If your child’s stress goes beyond the normal boundaries and is affecting their day to day life, it’s time to seek professional help.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD occurs when a child has witnessed or been affected by a traumatic event such a car accident or violent attack. Many studies have focused on the effects that natural disasters and kidnapping have on children. Symptoms include repeated flashbacks, feelings of guilt and emotional numbness.
Signs your child may be experiencing PTSD include:
• Repeated nightmares
• persistent illnesses, such as stomach aches or headaches, that have no cause
• reduced involvement in activities they used to find enjoyable
• Seeming “jumpy” or “on edge”
• re enactment of experience in repetitive play
PTSD often results in the person withdrawing from family and friends and it may also evoke feelings and behaviours associated with depression. This is a severe form of stress and PTSD nearly always affects the family and friends of the sufferer.
Helping your child
NETwork Interventions provides specialist help for children suffering with stress. Our team of highly experienced psychologists and behaviour analysts can work with you and your child to implement a strategy to enable him or her to cope with stress in a more healthy, age appropriate way.
Our starting point is to undertake a detailed assessment of your child to pinpoint the underlying problems and triggers of the stress. We will then discuss our findings with you and will provide an effective and realistic strategy for helping your child.
Helping the whole family
Our whole family approach means that we don’t just work with a child in isolation. We understand the pressures and challenges of being the parents or siblings of a child who has a recognised condition, or is simply struggling – and our support extends to you also.
Whatever support you, your child or your family need, you can rest assured that we will be with you every step of the way, providing the professional support and encouragement you need to help your child find new ways of dealing with stress.
Did you know?
Even infants can experience stress that affects the way they interact with the world. The good news is that we can do something about it and make changes to ensure your child's stress decreases and they are free to enjoy being a kid.