Signs of Stress in Kids

Signs of Stress in Kids - Chapter Three Signs of Stress in...

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Chapter Three Signs of Stress in Kids and Why Adults Often Miss Them Why We Adults So Often Miss Our Kids’ Distress Signals If we’re all so concerned about childhood stress, so well-intentioned, how do we miss the signals? It’s easy to do. A number of factors conspire to blind us to our own child’s stress. For one, parents, educators, and politicians have gotten sidelined by debates about how many hours a week our kids should be allowed to watch TV, whether we should install metal detectors in schools, whether to allow random urine tests for drugs. O ur concern as parents tends to center on the specific questions that come up every day—Should I take my 7-year old daughter to the Brittney Spears’ concert she’s dying to go to? How much TV should I let my kids watch? This sort of narrow focus prevents us from seeiing the forest for the trees. We miss the big picture of our own child’s stressed life. Most of us adults are overwhelmed and overloaded. Being “stressed out” has become a way of life. We may be too busy to notice our kids are having trouble coping. Or we may assume and hope that their behaviors – the nail biting, door slamming, arguing, and weeping -- fall within the range of normal. Or our kids may keep their feelings bottled up, because they don’t know how to express them or feel it’s “uncool” not to be able to “deal” or don’t want to worry us. We aren’t privy to our children’s feelings, unless they verbalize them. If they don’t, we can only make deductions from their behavior. And sometimes we interpret bad behavior at face value, without questioning the events that precipitated the screamed insults or slammed door. Given that we adults are only human, with feelings and flaws of our own, playing dispassionate detective isn’t easy. Plus, because most children are usually healthy and robust, stress-related illnesses may come and go quickly. And children are works in progress. They change, develop, evolve. We parents often feel that just when we think we have a handle on our children’s likes, dislikes, and habits, they change. It’s sometimes hard to separate the flotsam and jetsam of stress symptoms from the developmental drift. Even health professionals frequently miss the signs. The process that provoked the signs and symptoms is well hidden. Young (and even older patients) often don’t know what significance to attach to their symptoms. Unless a doctor suspects stress-related illness and questions the child about school, friends, diet, home life, the underlying factors may not come to light. Furthermore, most primary care doctors are focused on physical illnesses. Parents often have
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brought their child with complaints of a physical nature – headache, stomachache, recurrent colds. And even if the complaints spill into the realm of thoughts and emotions, those symptoms are fairly nonspecific and vary from individual to individual. That is, there is not set list of stress signs and symptoms
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course KIN 69 at San Jose State.

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Signs of Stress in Kids - Chapter Three Signs of Stress in...

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