a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our Children's Increasing Stress . . .

in an Increasingly Stressful World

My wonderful mother-in-law Jennie passed away over 20 years ago.  Today I uncovered an article she sent me with a handwritten note stating she had been given this material "some time ago."  I am guessing this advice was written almost 30 years ago --- It could have been written yesterday, except the stress-ors have greatly increased.

Before I get to the serious subject I am reminded of the routine pre-take-off airline announcement "in case of emergency be sure to put your oxygen mask on before you put on your child's" or something like that. It's a stretch, I agree, but here is a mother's day card from Heidi suggesting something similar..

and less stress!
The scenario:
Lisa, aged 8, just put in an 11 hour day: school, followed by soccer practice, followed by a piano lesson. It is almost her bedtime but Lisa has to review her spelling words. Instead of cooperating as she normally does, Lisa is alternately sobbing and shrieking. Her parents are genuinely shocked at her behavior.

The introduction:
In our hectic world it is unreasonable to expect a stress-free life. It is impossible.  Yet, too often, too many people consider excessive stress as an adults-only problem. Not so, says Dan Kaercher, the article's author.
               "The increasing incidence of stress symptoms in children indicates otherwise.
                 The adolescent suicide rate, for instance, has tripled since the mid-'50s.
                 Youngsters need guidance to make stress work for them not against them."

Gail's note: Remember, this article was written in the early '80s; as your read and absorb his points consider how far we have progressed digressed in the ensuing 30 years.

Why kids get over-stressed:
Not only do children have to cope with all the uncertainties and growing pains their parents faced, they have the following as well . . .

  • Pressure to achieve - Children are pushed to excel in school, in athletics, and socially at ever-younger ages.*
  • Over-programming - Soccer, tennis, ballet lessons, computer classes. No matter how worthwhile the activities are singly, the cumulative effect can be disastrous.
  • Floundering families - There are more divorces and single-parent families than ever before, placing a heavy burden on overextended parents and their children.
  • Changing values - Youngsters today face tough choices about drugs, smoking, drinking, and sex much earlier than their parents did.
  • Other worries - Fears about nuclear war and the economy take their toll on kids, just as they do on adults.
Watch for stress symptoms:
How well a child handles stress depends largely on his or her age, temperament, emotional well-being, and coping skills. Even in the same family each child is different.  Too much stress usually triggers behavioral changes.
In younger children - symptoms can include bed-wetting, compulsive crying, hair-pulling, and nightmares. They may become uncharacteristically dependent or demanding.
In older children - the symptoms are more subtle and can include excessive TV-viewing, overeating, difficulty concentrating, and chronic sleepiness or it's opposite, insomnia. Also, vague physical complaints--headaches and stomachaches unrelated to any illnesses.

In Friday's post I will continue with suggestions from Kaercher's article . . .

  • Three important things a parent can do 
  • Three important things a parent can teach

. . . to help your child cope with stress.

*You may want to check out my earlier post on young children and organized sports. http://thecreativecheapskate.blogspot.com/2012/08/helpful-guidelines-for-easing-little.html

I am Simply, Gail striving to bring you simple ideas to help you with the various aspects of YOUR life and YOUR challenges.

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