Children are Under Stress and Community Resources to Help Are Scarce
Just like adults, children are vulnerable to feelings of stress caused by external factors. Keeping up with intense schoolwork, learning to fit in, and tackling new challenges can all be stressful experiences for kids, who don't always have the lived experience and confidence that's needed to navigate a new situation.
It's crucial to take a handle in managing stress as a step toward good mental health. Though adults have a lifetime of experience at their disposal, children do not; thus, it's up to us to be present, observant, and consistent when helping kids learn to manage stress.
In this tumultuous year, that's a feeling many adults can relate to. As we all slog through the challenges of COVID-19 in an effort to establish our new normal, it's important to remember that the stress we feel trickles down to our children. They're very aware that things are different, and they're facing some stresses they've never experienced. School looked different in 2020 than ever before, with last year's classes abruptly switching to virtual learning, and many kids still not back in the classroom. While necessary, these changes are forcing them to adjust mentally, emotionally, and socially to a totally new paradigm -- a big ask for developing minds.
Of course, the stressful impact of COVID-19 extends far beyond individuals. Businesses and non-profit organizations are also struggling to regain their footing in the wake of these unprecedented events. While 72% of charities note that utilization of their services has been in greater demand during the pandemic, 77% of charities have revealed that COVID-19 negatively affected their access to funding. 59% of charities are presently accessing reserves funding and 45% of overseas charities are facing potential closure if additional funding is not secured.
When non-profit organizations can't perform as intended, the community suffers. In some cases, parents and children are unable to access resources that could help to carry them through a difficult time; this only compounds the stress being felt by all.
How to Spot Stress in Kids
A big part of helping kids cope with stressful experiences is spotting behavioral changes linked to stress. While some kids may open up to you without prompting, others might not feel able to communicate their stress to you. Behavioral changes -- eating, sleeping, or withdrawing more than normal -- are all a sign something might be bothering your child. A drop in grades and participation in extracurricular activities and hobbies are signs of stress, as are increases in hostility or anxiety. In younger children, regressive behaviors like tantrums and bedwetting are common.
How Adults Can Help
Be very aware of a child's behavior, especially when they're in situations you anticipate may be stressful. Notice what causes them stress, and reduce sources of stress where possible.
Communicate openly but appropriately about stress being normal, especially within the pandemic. Have regular check-ins to talk about what's going on with school and friends, and make sure they know the door is always open.
Establish routines and keep them, and make sure to include time to catch up as well as some time for happy, silly activities to help them de-stress.
Don't skimp on love and reassurance, especially now. Knowing you're their safe place can go such a long way.
Consistent, loving communication and open eyes are the best tools for adults to use when helping kids combat stress and learn self care. And there is information online that may help in managing stress levels during COVID-19,