The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated July as Purposeful Parenting Month. Purposeful parenting is all about being an active and engaged parent to build strong, positive and functional families. It’s a reminder to focus on your child’s growth in the best way possible so they can flourish. In observance of Purposeful Parenting Month, we’re sharing insight to help you recognize childhood stress and tips to help you manage it.
Did you know kids feel stress too?
It’s not just adults who experience stress. For kids, stress can manifest in different ways—for instance, a child might feel stress when asked to give a presentation to their class. However, they may also experience long-term stress that continues day after day for an extended period and causes physical or emotional symptoms.
Parents, watch for these symptoms:
- Stomach pains
- Diminished appetite or overeating
- Disturbances in sleep
- Behavior changes (e.g., losing interest in favorite activities)
- Increased anger, annoyance or irritability
- Reverting to younger behavior
- New fears, or increased awareness of a previous fear
You can help your kids manage stress by ensuring they:
- Get adequate sleep—9-12 hours a night for ages 6-12, 8-10 hours for ages 13-17
- Keep physically active—60 minutes or more a day for children 6-17
- Have a regular routine
Additional steps you can take:
- Create peaceful activities, such as practicing meditation as a family
- Listen to, and hear what your child is trying to say
- Be a positive role model by choosing healthy behaviors for yourself
- Avoid content, televised or otherwise, that promotes violence or other
themes that might increase anxiety for your child
- Create a positive environment and try to limit negative talk
- Encourage daily journal entries
- Seek help when needed
If you are concerned about your child or their behavior, it may be appropriate to speak with their physician.
- How to help children and teens manage their stress. apa.org/topics/children-teens-stress
- How Much Sleep Do I Need? cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
- Kids Health. Stress. kidshealth.org/en/kids/stress.html
- Stress in childhood. medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002059.htm