It does not matter who a person is. Everyone from kids to dads and moms are prone to feeling stress from time to time. The amount of stress felt and how chronic the stress is can vary by age and by the situation. But because preschool-age kids seem so happy and go-lucky, parents do not picture their little ones being capable of suffering from stress.
Specifically, because the type of things that cause preschoolers distress would never cross parents' minds as being stressful. With their fewer life experiences, however, small events can cause huge stress. This is why parents need to know how to help a preschooler deal with stress.
Being able to identify what stress looks like in preschoolers can be difficult because the behavior looks very much like these young children are simply not able to express their emotions verbally. This is because according to Kids' Minds Matter, preschoolers are physical when they feel big feelings of stress instead. As such, preschoolers get in trouble for being physical with other children or family members. But the root of the physicality is not always discussed. Making for a missed opportunity to help preschoolers find better ways to deal with their stress as opposed to taking it out on others.
Here is how to help a preschooler deal with stress.
Signs Of Stress In Preschoolers
Stressful feelings can make everyone behave differently. Preschoolers are no exception. As such, if three and four-year-olds begin to show signs of regression or are exhibiting strange characteristic traits, it is possible they are feeling stress. And the sooner this is realized, the better it is for preschoolers.
According to Lily Pond Country Day School, signs of stress in preschoolers include:
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Emotional state changes
- Having frequent tantrums
- Has sudden nightmares
- Nervous tics appear
- Thumb-sucking may begin
- Chewing on hair is common
- Has headaches
- Deals with stomach aches
- Starts having frequent accidents when potty-trained
- Becomes physically aggressive with siblings by hitting or biting them
If these behaviors begin out of nowhere, parents may want to do some digging. Because it is very likely that something is causing distress in preschoolers' lives. And not knowing how to express it verbally, this is the only way they know how.
Causes Of Stress In Preschoolers
It can be hard to determine what is causing stress in preschoolers. But by having open lines of communication and recognizing any major life changes that this age group may have recently had, pinpointing the cause of stress may not be too difficult to do.
According to Just In Time Parenting, causes of stress in preschoolers include:
- Starting a new school
- Starting a new daycare
- Moving to a new home
- Birth of a sibling
- Extended separation from parents
- Being disciplined
- Potty training
- Fears of not having enough food
- Worried that they will be left
- Being afraid of strangers
- Being sick or having an important person in preschoolers' lives being sick
- Fear of the unknown
If any of these scenarios are being experienced by preschoolers, then it is very possible they are under stress. And when this happens, preschoolers need to find ways to manage it with their parents' help. Something that will ensure stressful situations are handled in the most productive of ways possible.
How To Help Preschoolers With Stress
Finding ways to deal with the stress preschoolers are experiencing can be hard to do. But if given the right tools, finding coping mechanisms for little ones does not have to be a stressful situation for parents. And together, healthy ways to deal with stress can be discovered that both preschoolers and parents alike can use.
According to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, ways for preschoolers to deal with stress include:
- Make a casual observation that something seems to be bothering preschoolers
- Listen intently to what the preschooler has to say
- Comment on the feelings kids have
- Put a label on the feelings of stress being experienced
- Brainstorm with preschoolers what can be done when stressful feelings are felt
- Listen to the problem and move on
- Find ways to limit stress
- Just be present to be a rock for preschoolers
- Be patient and let preschoolers try to work feelings through and problem-solve, stepping in when necessary
Many times, all it takes is tools to help preschoolers work through their stressful emotions. And when this happens, not only will preschoolers be more emotionally mature but less prone to big emotional explosions as a result of stress.