Helping your child to deal with stress

StressedChildren in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 across our Bacchus Marsh schools have been diligently sitting the Australia-wide NAPLAN tests.  Many news reports have documented the apparent stress the NAPLAN tests cause to students and teachers alike.  Whether your child is experiencing NAPLAN or study related stress, or stress from another source entirely, we think it’s really important to share some ideas on how to help our Bacchus Marsh children through their anxieties and fears before they develop into something more serious than  a few butterflies in the tummy.

Firstly, it’s important to know when your child is exhibiting typical behaviours of being under stress.  Some obvious ones are hitting, kicking, fingernail biting, stuttering, insomnia, crying spells and anger.  However, there are other more subtle signs that you may have ignored or put down to something other than stress.  Children may grind their teeth, wet the bed, experience excessive laziness, lose their appetite, start using baby talk or sucking their thumb, become more accident prone, or suffer from indigestion.  Of course, all of these signs can be attributed to conditions other than stress, but if you know your child isn’t behaving in their typical way, all of these are signs that you may need to delve a little deeper to ensure they’re safe, happy and able to cope with their day-to-day lives.

If you believe your child is suffering from stress or feeling overwhelmed and anxious about a particular event or situation, there are a few things you can attempt to help them.  According to the Kid’s health website, children should be asked to identify what it is that is making them feel the way they do.  They should be encouraged to talk over their problems with a trusted adult or friend, and naturally be advised to seek further help if required.  If a child is feeling overwhelmed by their workload, help them to make a plan to get on top of things, and help them to realise that taking things one step at a time can be far less overwhelming than looking at the entirety of the task to be completed.  Help children to set themselves realistic and achievable goals; this will help to boost their confidence as they begin ticking tasks off one by one.

Some additional tips are to make sure your children get enough exercise, play time, time with friends, and time for relaxation.  You may think you’re doing your child a favour by registering them for every sport/dance group/activity they show interest in, but beware of over committing your child.  Always give them time to relax, unwind and have some fun, and make sure you set aside a block of time each day with your child, allowing them to chat about their day and what they’re feeling.

Children aren’t always carefree.  Stress is just as real to children as it is to adults, so if you have any inkling that your child may be suffering we encourage you to get on the front foot, be proactive, and help them to get whatever assistance or support they need.