Charles Sophy (Private Practice in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) gives expert video advice on: How can I help my child cope with stress?; What are the professional treatments for children with stress? and more...
What is childhood "stress"?
Childhood stress can come in many forms. It's the same kinds of stress that adults feel, whether it's from school, peer pressure, home issues, or conflict. But it's felt either in anxiety, frustration, or anger. How it is manifested in behavior depends on that child and the family dynamics that have allowed, and sent messages, of how your child should emote.
What causes a child to have stress?
As a parent, it is important for you to be able to clearly help them understand what is causing their stress. You should help discover whether school is really overwhelming or if it's just that the work is too hard, if they are having a problem with a friend, or if there are self-esteem issues that are going on. Do they feel something? Has somebody said something? Identifying the issue causing the stress, is tremendously empowering for a child so they can feel that there is a way for them to really understand the stress and then find a solution. There is physical and emotional help all in one that you can do for your child, because as you are doing that, the physical part of it is holding them, touching them and walking with them. But really the connection is the head and heart connection for your child, to be able to know what it is and what's getting to them, and then how to handle the stress.
What are signs that my child has stress?
You will know if your child has stress by seeing a change in the pattern in which they live. Their sleep may change; either they're sleeping more than they usually would have slept or they're sleeping less. Eating or social functioning may change in some manner. School work and school decompensation may start to rear its head. So, you'll see something in one or multiple areas of their life, that will give you some indication that your child is under some type of stress.
What are the professional treatments for children with stress?
Often I will see children under stress where the stress has got to a point where it is pervasive in some other area of their life or several areas of their life. And that's when these children need professional treatment. The family need to figure out how medication can fit in with the other things they need to do in their life. Often there is a need for professional medical treatment for children under stress because the stress has manifested itself into negative physical symptoms. The stress can cause a faster heartbeat or inability to fall asleep at night. There are problems we have to address and we may need to use some medicine until we get these other issues resolved. That will then resolve the sleeping issue or the eating issue or the heart palpitating issue.