Is Your Child Stressed? Be Alert to These Common Signs

Children can be under stress as much as the rest of us, and it can be equally detrimental for them. But because children react differently to stress, many parents don’t ever suspect that there is a problem. Yet, when little Dave starts acting up and throwing tantrums, deeper issues could be at stake.

According to “Stress in America 2009,” a report released by the American Psychological Association, many children often feel overwhelmed by factors such as school and relationships. For younger children, stress could result from any number of experiences, from toilet training to attending a new preschool.

Stress in children can manifest in a number of ways, including nervous habits (such as nail-biting or thumb-sucking), irritability, moodiness, and power struggles. Physically, a child coping with stress may experience headaches, stomachaches, or even bed-wetting. A stressed child might have more difficulty falling asleep at night, and when they do finally slip into slumber-land, may be plagued by nightmares. Displays of anxiety, such as needing to hold on to a certain toy or requiring more than usual reassurance, are also common.

So what can parents do to help their kids rise above the stresses of childhood? A few schools, including Los Angeles’s Accelerated School, have lighted upon an answer: yoga for kids.

With a growing body of research highlighting the efficacy of yoga for stress and yoga for anxiety/depression in adults, an increasing number of teachers and school officials have decided to implement yoga for children—and with impressive success.

For example, at the Accelerated School, teachers found that children who participated in the school’s YogaEd program displayed signs of stress-reduction including increased self-esteem, greater calm and focus, improved overall behavior, and fewer discipline issues. Furthermore, the students who practiced yoga for kids performed better on tests and held higher GPAs. These results were published in a pilot study examining the therapeutic effects yoga for children had on the 405 students who participated in the school’s YogaEd program. 

With so many conditions—from obesity, to anxiety and depression, to even cancer—linked to stress, it’s important to address tension and fears early on, before they compound and manifest in more serious symptoms. Among the benefits of yoga for kids, parents often find that their job becomes easier, as a stress-free child is naturally more cheerful, cooperative, and comfortable with developmental changes than one who is tense or anxious.

Childhood is not always as smooth of an experience as we may remember it being, and it’s important to keep in mind that although what overwhelms children may not seem concerning in the slightest to us, their emotions are real. Bringing yoga for kids into a child’s routine can help them better handle the stresses and strains of their day and equip them with a centered focus and calm that will serve them throughout their life.

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