A recent poll run by Netmums showed there has been a 70% increase in children emotional problems. The Office for National Statistics says that 1 in 10 children are suffering from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
These reports are worrying for any parent but there are things we can do to prevent our children from suffering from stress and anxiety.
I do believe children are never too young to learn tools to help them cope with stress. Signs of stress and emotional strain can appear at any time and even the most happy child can start to display signs of irritability and anxiety. Relaxation, play and exercise are key to ensuring children grow up feeling relaxed, happy and positive.
Teaching children to manage stress has now become as important as teaching them to eat well, sleep well and stay physically healthy. To cope, a child needs to understand stress as a “normal” feeling. One useful exercise is to trace around the child on a large piece of paper and then draw on to the body where they feel stress and how it appears ie headaches, unable to sleep, butterflies in the tummy, etc. Ask your child to talk about when they have those feelings and tell them about your experiences. Then help them to manage their stress: they should tell people how they feel, take some steady breaths, blow out imaginary birthday cake candles, keep a journal, distract themselves, take some time out and play a game or listen to music.