Stress in Children

Remedies for Nervous Tics in Teenagers

Keep the Focus Off Tics

Focusing on the tics tends to make them worse, so parents should not call attention to the tics. Your teen realizes it happens, and when someone calls attention to it, the tic can get worse, according to TeensHealth. Let your teen know he shouldn't try to suppress tics because the concentration required to quash the tic can cause mental fatigue, which itself can, contribute to additional problems such as poor concentration in school.

Supportive Family

An important aspect of tic management is a supportive family that encourages an environment where the teen can talk with parents and work out strategies for the specific circumstance. Parents and teens should let others including teachers at school know that they have tics. Explain to people that the teen is not doing it on purpose and stress that tics are not a sign of mental or physical illness and often go away on their own.

Therapy

Habit reversal therapy has shown some lasting success in patients, according to the Movement Disorder Society. The therapy starts with awareness as the therapist instructs teens to identify and name each tic out loud. Then, the patient and therapist devise a competing response. The competing response consists of some behavior that cannot be performed at the same time as the tic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses the example of placing the hands on the knees as the competing response for a tic involving head rubbing.

Stress Reduction

Stress reduction can help lessen the frequency of tics. Encourage your teen to take good care of herself by exercising and eating right and avoiding caffeine, illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Help your teenager build time into his schedule for relaxation such as listening to music, playing with pets or chatting with friends. Other ways of reducing stress include, breaking complex tasks into small steps, learning muscle relaxation techniques and making a network of helpful friends.

Meditation Techniques for Children With Behavior Problems

Guided Imagery

Children are very imaginative. For this reason, guided imagery is an excellent meditation technique for them to practice. To practice guided imagery with your child, find a place where you can sit quietly and comfortably together. Both of you should close your eyes. Lead the meditation by painting a visual picture with words of a place that is quiet, calming and still. Describe something like an expansive field of grass, a waterfall, or beach.

Meditative Breathing

Learning how to breathe in a way that is calming is key to being able to meditate properly. Have your child close his eyes. Tell him to breathe in and out slowly while counting each breath he takes in and out from 1 to 10. Once your child reaches 10 he can restart if he does not feel calm yet. This method of meditation can be used in combination with other methods, such as guided imagery and mantra.

Sound Mantras

Have your child select a sound mantra that helps relax him and provides him comfort. Traditionally, sound mantras might be “hum,” “om,” or “ah.” Children may also choose a word that calms them such as the word “relax” or “peace.” Have your child close his eyes and sit somewhere quiet and free of distractions. Repeat the mantra word he has chosen with him over and over again until he is calmed and soothed. This form of meditation can be done alone or with the help of a parent.

Present Moment Meditation

Present moment meditation can be extremely useful on the go and it can help calm a child in a tense situation. Start by having your child focus on his breathing, taking breaths slowly in and out. Ask your child to focus on the feeling of the oxygen circulating through his body from his head to his toes. Your child should keep focusing on his breath and circulation until he feels soothed and calm. This method of meditation is useful because it can be done standing up, or in a relaxed position.

Scenarios for Teens to Help Deal With Accusations

I Own It

The first step in dealing with accusations, according to Dr. Phil, is to help your teen take ownership of the situation. Acknowledge that it happened and that there’s nothing anyone can do to undo it. Talk about what happened with your teen. Relive the situation in the safe and supportive home environment. Help her accept what happened. Don’t let her get stuck in the “I don’t want to talk about it” version. This only compounds the hurt and shame. Try not to hammer it home, either. Once she has sufficient understanding of the situation, start looking at solutions.

Hold Your Head Up

Reframing the incident with your child can help him gain perspective on the situation. Have him affirm out loud that he is a good person. His life isn’t ruined, and things aren’t that horrible. Help him change his mind from negative to positive. Go over empowering phrases, like “I am a good and thoughtful person,” to help boost his self-esteem and confidence. Have him walk with his head high and shoulders back. Let him practice looking people in the eye.

Reputation Rebuild

Have your teen tell you what she would like to see happen to make the situation better. Is there someone who can help clear her name or re-establish her reputation? Maybe a teacher, someone at church or, if serious, perhaps the authorities can help? Don’t let her get carried away, though. This is not a vendetta. It is simply an exercise to see if there’s any type of damage control that can be done.

Rumor Mill Shutdown

Once your child has accepted his part in the situation, the time has ended to hold his head in shame. Role play situations where he faces the rumor. Help him take his power back. There is no need to defend a rumor; walk away from it. In other words, don’t let him feel the need to react. If it’s his friends who are dissing him, encourage him to move on. Assure him there will be other friends who will like and respect him for who he is.

When Deployment Causes Violent Behavior in Kids

Statistics

When a child has a parent in military deployment, the child has a higher chance of participating in school fights, carrying a weapon and gang involvement, states the American Public Health Association. Statistics include children of both genders, with girls exhibiting two times greater risk of carrying a weapon.

Extenuating Factors

Some children may be at a higher risk for excessive stress and negative responses, states the North Carolina Public Schools website. If a child has suffered previous emotional or social issues, the difficulty of a deployment may raise the stress to levels that become hard to manage for a child. In addition, a family that functions in a disorganized manner or that has struggled with other issues or problems may not support a child effectively throughout deployment.

Stress Symptoms

Symptoms of excessive stress in children include prevailing sadness that doesn’t resolve after six weeks of deployment, depression, withdrawal, violent thoughts, violent writing or drawing, self-harm, intentional harm to others, angry outbursts and recklessness. A child may also communicate intense worry, show separation anxiety and begin to show rebellious behavior if the stress mounts to unhealthy levels.

Support

During deployment, a youngster needs adult support to help her work through the myriad feelings and emotions, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Maintain an active connection with your child every day – staying involved and available to answer questions and talk about concerns. It may help to provide a child with opportunities to spend time with other children experiencing deployment so your little one knows she isn't alone in her situation. Maintain as much composure and strength as you can for your child to witness. Because children often imitate and mirror parental example, if your child sees you having difficulty coping, your child may also have a harder time. If your support for your child does not alleviate the violent behavior, have her assessed by a professional to get help.

Teaching Children to Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

Stress Management

Teachers might have a challenging task of maintaining order in a classroom owing to the fact that every child is different in disposition. Children may become tired and stressed when they start to get overwhelmed with the amount of activities teachers assign them, according to Janet Kremenitzer and Regina Miller reporting in the National Association for the Education of Young Children. At this point, the teacher needs to introduce a different activity, preferably physical, to help children release their emotions productively.

Learning from Mistakes

Parents can make children learn a lot from mistakes. Nevertheless, the desire to make the child realize the seriousness of his misdeed may get some parents carried away to the extent that the punishment harms more than it educates. Instead of just punishing a child, it would be of more benefit to make him learn how not to repeat the mistake, notes Sharon Silver in Proactive Parenting. For instance, you can firmly, but lovingly, ask the child to go into her room and think of what she has done. She then should come up with a list of things she plans to do differently to avoid a repeat of the mistake, according to Silver.

Negative Thinking

Negative thinking can lower a child’s self-confidence and can make her hopeless when faced with a new situation, notes Cindy Jett, LICSW, in Counseling Resource. Parents can teach children to be proactive through positive thinking. For instance, a child going to a new school may doubt if they will make any friends and make excuses for it. In such a case, help the child to focus on the positive. Remind him of his good qualities that would naturally draw new friends.

Adaptation

Changes are all part of life and children will have new experiences from time to time. Unfortunately, some changes may have a debilitating effect on a young person’s emotional health. Parents may move to a new neighborhood and have to enroll their child in a new school. A child who does not have the capacity to adapt to changes may become anxious or depressed in such situations, according to Cindy Jett reporting in PsychCentral. Parents can point out new possibilities the change may have brought into the child’s life to make her think positively, advices Jett.

Family Activities for Positive Coping Skills

Work it Out

Physical activity is an effective way to work out some of the pent-up frustration or anxiety that family members are feeling. Support your kids and help them cope with stress by taking them out to play basketball or going for a family run. By spending time with your kids, you're reminding them that there is support available if they need it. Don't pick something too competitive, as that may cause some people even more stress.

Make Beautiful Music Together

If your family members play an instrument or sing, try a family jam session to work through feelings. Playing music is an effective way to express emotion while keeping the mind active and the hands busy. If your child shows up in a foul mood but isn't in the mood to share his feelings, let him pick the music you play. If there's a theme in the music, whether it be angst-ridden love songs or angry rock, you'll gain insight into his mood and what may be causing it.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

When everyone's in a sunny mood, practice a calming muscle relaxation exercise as a group. That way, when someone is having problems thinking clearly or coping with difficulties, he'll have an easier time falling into the familiar pattern of relaxing. Everyone should stand or sit comfortably but must remain straight. Ask everyone to close their eyes and breathe deeply three times through their noses. Very slowly, everyone must think of their feet and relax, thinking of body parts above there as each part relaxes. Move up from the feet, thinking of everything from the calves and shins up to the tongue, eyes, forehead and even the top of the head.

Turtle

If you have very young family members, you can try the turtle together. When your child has nervous energy or is angry, this can be an ideal way to cope with negative feelings that could get her into trouble. Everyone needs to stand with feet apart. Crouch so your bottom is over your heel, possibly sitting on them, depending on how limber you are. It's okay if you fall over -- just try again. In fact, a tumble may add a little humor to a stressful time. When you're in position, wrap your arms around your knees and give yourself a hug. Count to five. Teach your child that she can do this for as long as she needs to calm down. If family members have enough balance and everyone seems calmer and happier, encourage some laughter by asking if anyone can waddle around the room in that position.

Effects of Parental Stress on Infants

Toxic Stress

A parent with substance abuse issues or who suffers from mental illness can impose the most acute form of stress -- called toxic stress -- on their child, explains the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Toxic stress which can also result from persistent neglect and emotional or physical abuse -- perhaps when a parent feels overwhelmed by financial burdens or relationship issues -- can release stress hormones in an infant that can potentially alter the connection of brain circuits. In extreme cases, ongoing toxic stress can result in the development of a smaller brain. Chronic stress can lead to heart disease, digestive problems and sleep disturbances over the long term.

Sensitivity

When parents let their personal problems get the best of them, they pay less attention to the needs of their infant, which can make the infant feel fearful and alone, says Andrew Garner, MD, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' national committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health. Although an infant is clearly incapable of understanding the significance or meaning of highly stressful events such as divorce, she is skilled at detecting changes in her parents' moods and actions. Some parents sink into a depression following a separation and are slower to respond to their infant's needs.

Contagious Moods

An infant is able not only to pick up on changes in your attitude or feelings, but he is also highly susceptible to “catching” his parent’s feelings, points out University of Missouri Extension. When a mom acts concerned or unhappy in the presence of her baby, her baby is apt to become sad and upset. A troubled baby may become fussy and hard to please or seem disinterested in things or other people when he detects that his parents are distressed.

Considerations

Receptive and supportive encounters with caring adults early in life can stop or undo the harmful effects of toxic stress response. When at least one parent is consistently supportive and caring, most stress responses are tolerable, notes Harvard University. Getting a vaccination or attending day care for the first time may ignite a normal or positive stress response in terms of how an infant's body responds to the taxing event, assuming of course that the parent isn't overly stressed out due to these circumstances.

How to Handle Teen Stress

Ask your teen if she feels her schedule is too overwhelming, advises KidsHealth. Ideally, she will tell you if she feels stressed and overwhelmed thanks to her hectic schedule but if she feels that you might be disappointed or upset with her for wanting to pare down her extracurricular activities, she might not have the courage to say anything to you. In this case, asking her if she thinks her schedule is too much to handle is a good idea. If she has piano lessons, cheer leading practice, school, a job and she’s the student government president, she might be stressed by all her responsibilities and she might need to give something up. Your job is to notice when she seems stressed and find out if you can help her work her schedule to better manage her stress.

Encourage your teen to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get plenty of exercise. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, these two habits are good ones for managing stress. You can help your teen manage stress by cooking meals that include lots of fruit and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy sides. Additionally, you can offer to join him on a walk, play a game of basketball in the driveway or join the gym with him so that you can ensure he’s getting plenty of exercise, which releases healthy endorphins into his brain causing his stress level to subside.

Help your teen learn to take a relaxing break when she feels stressed, advises the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Encourage her to stop working on her school project when she’s feeling stressed and take a walk, do yoga or read for a while. When she finds something that really relaxes her, her stress level fades and she is able to build up her confidence and brain power so that she can get back to what she was doing with new-found energy and motivation.

How to Help a Child Deal With Family Stress

Recognize the symptoms. If your child does not speak with you about his problems directly, you might have to look for signs that stress is bothering him. If it looks as though he is always looking to escape from the rest of the family and bickers with other family members during your time together, family stress could be bothering him, according to the University of Illinois Extension.

Speak with your child about how stress works. When dealing with a stressful circumstance, your child might find herself isolated and scared. Let her know that stress is a normal part of life that everyone deals with occasionally, so she does not need to feel alone, suggests PsychCentral.

Develop healthy ways of dealing with stress that your child can use. Encouraging physical activity is an effective way to help your child cope with stress. You can also teach your child breathing exercises and come up with other methods of relaxation that will help your child to calm down quickly.

Identify the cause of the stress. Today's children face more stress than previous generations, according to HealthyChildren.org, because of high divorce rates, having two working parents and being over-scheduled throughout the day. While it it's impossible for parents to eliminate all of the causes of stress, identifying them makes it easier to deal with them directly.

Limit additional stressors. If family life is causing stress problems for your child, she might try to escape by watching TV or surfing the Internet for hours. This screen time, however, can bring additional stress to her life through external sources. If your child is already stressed, limiting the time that she spends in front of a screen can help, notes PsychCentral.

Tip

Not all children are affected by the same stressors, which is why discussing the cause of the stress with the child is critical.

Stress Relievers for Kids

Get Outside

Dr. Rhonda Clements, president of the American Association for the Child's Right to Play, states that active outdoor play relieves stress. Take your child for a walk or go on a bike ride together and enjoy the fresh air. Let your child know that it is acceptable to get dirty, and let her engage in free outdoor play. Provide your child with outdoor toys that encourage play, such as a sandbox, plastic shovels and a variety of balls.

Quality Time

According to KidsHealth.org, setting aside time each day with your child helps him cope with stress. Take him on a special outing -- his favorite restaurant for lunch, a trip to the new exhibit at the museum or simply to the neighborhood park -- to let him know how much you value time with him. By making yourself available to him, you are allowing him the opportunity to discuss stressful situations with you and may even have the chance to work on solutions with him.

Provide a Quiet Activity

Psychology Today states that even fun activities -- such as sports -- have become competitive and may cause stress in your child. Schedule time each day for your child to participate in a relaxing activity, free from pressure and competition. Set up a comfy chair with some of his favorite books where he can read. Provide him with art supplies so he can paint and draw. Sign him up for a soothing kids' yoga class.

Relaxation and Sleep

Teach your child to self-soothe during stressful situations. This can be as simple as breathing deeply and slowly with him during a situation that causes him anxiety. Turn on relaxing music and ask your child to imagine himself at the beach. These basic relaxation exercises may help reduce stress and anxiety, according to Dr. Amy Przeworski at Psychology Today. In addition to teaching coping techniques, help prevent stress before it starts by ensuring your child is getting enough sleep at night and has a calming bed time routine to help her transition into the state necessary to fall asleep.