More and more children and teens are reporting feelings of stress. Karen Tarpey, a play therapist in Mount Pleasant, says parents should keep an eye out for physical symptoms of stress. Children younger than 11 may not be able to adequately express their feelings in the same way an older child or adult can.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Child isolating or losing interest in activities.
- Changes in eating.
- Changes in sleeping, including nightmares.
- Extreme statements, such as “I may as well be dead.” Tarpey says these kinds of statements definitely get parents’ attention. The child – especially a young child – may not fully understand what he’s saying, but he is trying to express feelings of stress or being overwhelmed.
Tarpey suggests some self-calming strategies for stressful times:
- A butterfly hug – cross hands over your chest and then alternate the movement of your hands, similar to the flapping of a butterfly’s wings.
- Writing in a gratitude journal.
- Manipulating a squishy ball or rubbing a smooth stone.
- Blowing bubbles.
- Using essential oils.