1. KID STRESS: Real #Parenting Solutions to Troubling Youth Trends Series

by | Sep 19, 2009 | Stress, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

Michele Borba

This week I appeared on TODAY and with Meredith Viera. We discussed five troubling trends that our hitting our kids at younger ages. 

(Here is what TODAY.com wrote about The Big Book of Parenting Solutions:  “Yay! 101 real solutions for bewildered parents. Michele Borba’s book allows moms and dads to find relevant info in a hurry.” 

Let’s face it: Parenting is hard, and kids don’t come with an instruction manual. That’s why “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries,” a new book by Michele Borba, is so helpful. Borba’s book allows parents to flip straight to an issue that’s bewildering them most and download needed guidance in a hurry. In this excerpt, Borba helps parents figure out how to assist their kids when they start exhibiting signs of stress. 


SEE ALSO: Angry, Argues, Defiant, Depressed, Fearful, Grief, Moving, Peer Pressure, Pessimistic, Sleepless


Red flags

Physiological signs: bedwetting, nausea and diarrhea, stuttering, colds and fatigue, nail biting or hair twirling, restlessness and irritability.

Psychological signs: big mood swings, short-temperedness, withdrawal, inability to concentrate, arguing, excessive whining or crying, increased clinginess and dependency.

The change to parent for
Your child learns to recognize how his body responds to stress and situations that increase it and develops ways to reduce tension as well as cope.

Question: “My 8-year-old is so tense lately. She can’t sleep, is moody, and is having a tough time focusing on her schoolwork. Could this be stress-related? I don’t know how to help her.”

Answer: Stress isn’t just for adults. Studies show that today’s kids are feeling a lot more pressure than we think they are, and stress symptoms are showing up in kids as young as 3. Ask yourself these three critical questions: How does my child handle stress? What could be triggering it? and Does my child know healthy ways to reduce the stress?

Why change?
Think stress is just for adults? Not these days. In fact, a recent iVillage poll found that almost 90 percent of mothers think kids these days are far more stressed than when they themselves were growing up. Research finds that between 8 and 10 percent of American children are seriously troubled by stress and symptoms; if left untreated, stress can not only affect your child’s friendships and school success but also his physical and emotional well-being. Overscheduled days, competition, school, treadmill-paced lives, home problems, scary nightly news, and stressed-out parents are just a few contributors.

One thing is certain: stress is part of life, and some kids actually do seem to thrive on it. But one in three kids suffers from chronic stress symptoms that can not only break down his immune system but also increase his likelihood for depression. Your critical parenting question is this: Does the stress stimulate my kid or paralyze him? In order to know that answer, you need to recognize how your child handles normal stress and what unique signs he exhibits when on overload. When he gets to that level and stress is having too negative an effect, it is critical that you intervene for your child’s physical as well as psychological health. This entry describes proven solutions to help you determine just how well your child is coping, and ways to reduce your child’s stress.

Signs and symptoms
Each kid responds differently, but the key is to identify your child’s physical behavioral or emotions signs before he is on overload. A clue is to look for behaviors that are not typical for your child.

Physical stress signs

  • Headache, neck aches and backaches
  • Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomachache, vomiting
  • Shaky hands, sweaty palms, feeling shaky, lightheadedness
  • Bedwetting
  • Trouble sleeping, nightmares
  • Change in appetite
  • Stuttering
  • Frequent colds, fatigue

Emotional or behavioral stress signs

  • New or reoccurring fears; anxiety and worries
  • Trouble concentrating; frequent daydreaming
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Social withdrawal, unwillingness to participate in school or family activities
  • Moodiness, sulking or inability to control emotions
  • Nail biting, hair twirling, thumb sucking, fist clenching, foot tapping
  • Acting out, anger, aggressive behaviors such as tantrums, disorderly conduct
  • Regression or babylike behaviors
  • Excessive whining or crying
  • Clinginess, more dependency, withdrawal; won’t let you out of sight

(The excerpt continues….click here for my real solutions to stress posted on TODAY.com from The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

My approach in The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is always to provide common sense parenting plus science-based strategies). Change is always set up in three steps: Step 1. EARLY INTERVENTION, Step 2. INTERVENTION and Step 3. DEVELOP NEW HABITS FOR CHANGE. 

 Tomorrow we take on the second troubling youth trend. One issue at a time let’s stop these trends with real solutions and help raise strong and caring kids.