Feelings of stress are part and parcel of life. Nobody is spared from stress – babies as old as 6 months may experience it. With the academic rigour and prevalent culture of tuition centres in Singapore, it is helpful for parents to learn how to identify symptoms of stress. Early detection allows for more effective intervention.
Some signs of stress to look out for include:
- Physical Symptoms
Physical symptoms are the most visible and easiest to detect. If your child complains of a headache, stomach pain and chest pain, the root cause may actually be high feelings of stress that have manifested physically. Also known as tension headaches, observe if your child grips onto his head, or other parts of the body when he is studying or eating. This would indicate pain in that particular part of the body. Another symptom to look out for is difficulty sleeping. Your child may toss and turn, or lie in bed with noticeable tension in his body.
- Behavioural Symptoms
Behavioural symptoms occur when your child acts differently from his usual behaviour. This can come in the form of frequently lying, nail biting or change of eating habits. Your child may lie when under immense stress to meet high demands or feel embarrassed about a particular incident. It becomes a grave concern when it develops into a habit. Learn to be patient and address the issue gently with them. When stressed, your child may also have reduced appetites and may refuse to eat. Consider cooking your child’s favourite foods to stimulate appetites. If your child is more lethargic, this is also a tell-tale sign of stress. Your child may lack energy to help out with chores, or express reluctance to go out with the family.
- Emotional Symptoms
Emotional symptoms are more difficult to detect. If your child appears to be pessimistic or more irritable, these may be areas of concern especially if these stress symptoms become more persistent. Outside of academics, children also experience stress from social circles. They may be uncomfortable or embarrassed to open up to parents regarding these issues. It is important that parents do not pressure their child to open up. Instead, create a safe environment and let them know you always have an open ear.
- Cognitive Symptoms
If your child has impaired concentration or has trouble remembering things, these may be worth noting as stress symptoms. When raising questions, he may look with a dazed look and be unable to answer. Your child may be so overwhelmed with problems that they become the recurring theme to think about in mind. Any other thing becomes difficult to take the centre stage.
Children are at ease when they have the emotional support of a parent. As they navigate through the stresses of life, let us learn how to manage such stress symptoms in next week’s article.