Helping kids cope with stress
Kids today are under more pressure, both academically and socially, than kids were only a few decades ago. They face more competition in school, they have more homework and they start getting assignments at a much younger age. And their after-school schedules are often just as hectic.
Social situations may also produce stress, such as being teased by a classmate or being picked last for a team in gym class.
“Adults and kids perceive stress very differently,” says Carrie Drazba, MD, a pediatrician at Rush University Medical Center. “What may seem minor to you may, in a kid’s world, be a big stressor.”
Those stressors can cause sleep disturbances or even physical symptoms, such as an upset stomach. Kids who are stressed may also “act out” more.
“It’s their way of telling you that something is on their mind and they want to talk about it, but they don’t know how to verbalize it,” Drazba says.
That’s why it’s important for parents to watch out for signs of stress and to help their kids deal with stressors in a healthy way. Drazba offers the following suggestions for de-stressing your kids:
- Make dinner a family affair. “A lot can be solved over the dinner table,” Drazba says. “Sit down with your kids over a good meal, without the TV on, and ask how their day went — what was good, bad, stressful. Then help them work through any problems they have.”
- Don’t overschedule your kids.
- Don’t bring work-related stress home. Make it a priority to relax and spend quality time with your kids at the end of the day and on weekends. You’ll all feel less stressed.
- If your child does have physical symptoms, such as a stomachache, take him or her to the pediatrician to rule out a medical problem. If the problem is stress-related, the pediatrician can help you and your child diffuse the stressor.
Most important, stay connected to your kids. “Pay attention to them, talk to them,” Drazba says. “That’s what they crave.”
To make an appointment with a pediatrician at Rush, call (888) 352-RUSH (7874).
Pediatric Care at Rush
Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, is a leader in caring for children of all ages, from newborns through young adults.
At Rush, physicians from more than 30 specialties address the full range of pediatric diseases and congenital problems, from the common to the complex. Rush pediatricians, pediatric surgeons, nurses and other health professionals provide care that aims to fulfill community needs, empower parents and advance pediatric care.
For more information about the pediatric care at Rush visit the Rush Children’s Hospital home page.
Or phone (888) Rush-KID or (888) 787-4543.
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