Stress affects us all, there are times when life is just giving you everything it’s got and not in a positive way. But we sometimes forget that children can feel stress too, and these new-found emotions aren't something they're used to dealing with.
Stress can cause a change in your child’s behaviour and/or mood. Whilst not always an indicator for stress, mood swings and generally acting differently to their usual selves can be a sign, along with:
feeling unwell (stomach aches/headaches)
It's important to note any changes in your child’s behaviour regardless of what the cause maybe, but if you think they may be feeling a little stressed it's worth trying to identify what could be the root of the problem to help you work through it together.
Children can be affected by things that may not seem all that significant to us, but even a small change to their daily routine can worry them; a new person at nursery or school, or a change of room layout for example.
We may also forget just how much children pick up on; they could be aware of something you may have voiced with a friend or family member and are worried about you! No one likes to know their loved ones are feeling down.
So how can we help our children to process these emotions?
It's a whole new challenge for them, and can even be difficult for us grown-ups too sometimes!
Firstly, let them know you're there and they can talk to you about whatever is upsetting them. They may be scared to open up, but encouraging children to voice their worries helps both you and them work through the issue. Let them know it’s okay to tell you what’s wrong, you want to make sure they feel safe and happy.
Try to find a positive for them to focus on. If there's a new person around, let them know it could be a new friend! Reassure them that new things and changes can be positive.
Spend some quality time together and establish an after-nursery or evening routine (any time that fits your family, really) to help them wind down and feel safe and loved. You are their role model and they’ll love having some time just for you and them!
Don’t forget, you can always ask for help or advice from your child’s nursery practitioner - your child’s well being is always the most important thing!
And there are sources online with great information - Check out Young Minds for more information. (Youngminds.org.uk)
Finding tools and techniques that can help children work through their feelings and emotions at a young age will help them greatly, and will allow them to establish healthy coping methods to help from childhood through to adulthood.