Ask a child of school age if they have stress in their life, and the answer will be a definite "yes", something that many adults don't realize. And they indicate those stresses occur both at home and in school. School stress is probably the most often noted, including wanting peer approval, getting along with friends, and worry about homework and tests. Older children add the stress of keeping up with a busy schedule that includes homework and studying, sports and other school activities. High school students have the added stress of making decisions about what they need to be doing after graduation.
Children, as well as adults, react to and handle stress differently, based on many factors. Some are just a little more easy-going, and adjust with little difficulty to these challenges in life. Others may show symptoms of stress through such behaviors as physical ailments such as headaches and stomachaches, and increased irritability, or withdrawing.
Research indicates that certain characteristics in the child, family and community can help both adults and children in bouncing back in the face of stressful events and situations. These include:
--A loving relationship with at least one adult within the family
--Positive connections to adults outside the immediate family
--An optimistic attitude and belief in one's own ability
--Feeling able to help out another family member
--Feeling loved, lovable and worthwhile
--Effective problem solving skills
--Belief in the ability to make things better for him/herself
Contributed by Karen Beery, LCPC, Manger--Consultation and Education Department.
Mail questions to: High Plains Mental Health Center, PLAIN SENSE, Consultation and Education Department, 208 East 7th, Hays, KS 67601; or visit www.highplainsmentalhealth.com.