This past year has been a stressful year- FOR ALL OF US.
Let’s just all collectively take a deep breath and allow the suckiness of the year to pass through.
Good. You are now a little less stressed.
However, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been concerned about the impact it’s been having on your kids. I often find myself watching their behaviors and trying not to obsess over them.
My daughter is having a headache- is that normal, or is she feeling overwhelmed right now?
My son hasn’t spoken to his best friend in a week, is he just busy with other things or is he withdrawing?
Well, according to Katie Hurley, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (and mom of 2), there are signs- and things we can do to help!
Look for Changes
We all know that kids can have stomach aches, headaches, sore muscles, fatigue, changes in sleep & eating habits, and even can change their degree of socialization often. Sometimes it’s due to something small, stress over a test or moving to a new home, but it can also be a sign of something bigger.
We all experience the changes listed above. Some of us have them more than others, but the key to figuring out if it’s an actual concern is the intensity. If the stomach aches or headaches are so bad every day that we can’t get out of bed, or struggle to make it through everyday then it’s a concern. If we haven’t been able to sleep through the night for a week, or more, that’s a concern.
Trust Your Gut!
No one knows your kids as well as you do! Does your child seem to be struggling more, day-to-day? Was your once very outgoing and chatty child, now quiet and in sitting by themselves almost all the time? Are you concerned about how they are doing? If so, then trust your gut!
Okay, now you have identified there’s a concern…now what? You can contact your pediatrician. They often have resources in the area that specialize in kids and helping support them when dealing with anxiety and/or depression.
Also, here’s 3 things you can do to help at home to help prevent everyday stress from becoming something bigger:
1. Connect with your kid
Kids are funny. Some kids will walk right up to you and ask for what they need-
Other kids (often older ones like teens) won’t come right out and ask for what they need. They will even tell you to go away and that they are fine. It’s not uncommon for teens to not know what they want or need in terms of emotional support.
So try a few different things:
- Offer to talk.
- Ask “How can I help?”
- Offer just time being together (movie and TV marathons are often a decent bet).
- Just offer to hang out with them. Let them know that they don’t have to be happy all the time. They can just sit with the feeling and you can be there for them.
Modeling skills really helps your kids build those skills for themselves. Some of those skills you could model are:
- talking about your feelings, especially naming those feelings of anxiety or sadness.
- telling your kids what you are doing to deal with those feelings. We do them all the time, talking a walk, reading a book, sitting and just breathing through it.
For instance, you could say “I am just feeling really anxious about my meeting today. I’m going to go listen to some music and drink a cup of tea to help relax.”
- identify when you are having physical symptoms related to stress and/or anxiety. Oftentimes, our kids don’t realize that a headache or other physical symptom could be from stress.
Set some boundaries before you go past the point of no return and are hiding in your closet to get a few seconds of peace. We are in a stressful place right now, with no definitive end. So it’s definitely the right time to set and keep those boundaries.
A great start would be teaching your kids to do more things on their own. You could teach them how to
- change the ink in the printer, by themselves,
- fold their socks, by themselves,
- make up their bed, by themselves, or
- make a sandwich for their own lunch…by themselves-
Are you seeing a pattern here?
Helping your kids understand that you can’t be there to fix everything is a very helpful and healthy boundary.
Times are stressful right now, but there are things we can do to help and to ensure that our kids don’t get lost in it all.
Resources We Shared:
The best mom is a happy mom. To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here . These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.