Stress is something we all have to deal with, including children. But every child has a different coping method when it comes to handling and managing stress.
Tamara A Hogan outlines several different coping methods common in children. Understanding these coping mechanisms can help you as a parent see the signs that your child may be stressed and help them overcome any difficulties.
The Athlete (gets physical)
Does your child push himself to do be the very best in exercise or in sport when he is feeling under the pressure? Whenever he feels angry or upset, does he head to the gym or run laps around the park?
The Comedian (use humour)
Does your little one use humour when he is feeling worried. Trying to find the funny in the problem is a common coping mechanism.
The Eeyore (passively resists)
My son is an Eeyore when it comes to handling stress – he disengages and gives up. This can be frustrating to watch as a parent but it is important to remain encouraging and to get them to try again.
The Hippie (gets relaxed)
The hippie goes with the flow. What happens, happens for a reason and often they can find peace even in a stressful situation.
The Fairy God Mother (positively reframes)
Yes, things are bad, but the fairy god mother looks for the positive by reframing the situation. Again, this is a healthy way to handle stress. Even very stressful situations have a silver lining.
The Nurse (helps others)
One way many people, even young children, hand stress is by distracting themselves and rushing to the aid of others.
The Martha Stewart (solves problems)
Marthas loves to find the source of the problem and go from there. Most children are unable to master this type of stress management, especially at a young age.
The Talker (turns to venting)
If you have a chatterbox at home, then this may be one of the ways your child manages stress. Expressing their negative feelings freely with you is a healthy and excellent way to handle a stressful situation.
The Masquerader (dances with denial)
Other children prefer to act as if nothing is wrong. If the problem is avoided all together, then it doesn’t exist.
The Martyr (blames himself)
If your little one is constantly blames himself for a situation by internalising the issue, then he may be a martyr when it comes to managing stress. A good way to help him through this is to talk to him and get him to understand that many things in life are not in his control.
The Tolerator (embraces the change and challenge)
Other children will accept reality and the stress that comes with it without much of a problem at all.
One thing to remember when it comes to handling stress yourself and in your children is that often you cannot change the way your child handles stress. Stress is part of a child’s temperament. some children worry; some children do not. It’s up to you as a parent to find the best solution based on their individuality.
Check out our parenting section for more tips on helping children cope with stress.