Stress is a major issue for many people. It can affect just about anyone even the kids. In Malaysia, the number of Malaysian kids struggling with mental illnesses is already alarming. This could be hard on them because some adults often think that kids have no significant life issues and can't possibly be stressed. That is a big misconception. An entry on UNICEF Malaysia reported 872 Malaysian youths committed suicide between January 2019 and May 2021, as stated by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM). I was shocked and in tears when I learned that children aged 15 to 18 years old accounted for 51% of the total 1,708 suicide cases registered during that period. This should be a wake-up call to all parents. I think it is necessary to discover more about child distress and pay closer attention to my kids daily. Many times, children are unaware that they are under stress. Parents need to first educate them about the feeling so they can talk about it better and comfortably. I will also share how to recognise children's stress and how you can help. How to Educate Kids About Stress Image credit: Canva It all starts with how you define stress to kids. I found Britannica Kids\u2019 detailed description of stress quite helpful. It defines stress as the feeling that people have when they are uneasy with something that is happening. Many factors can contribute to stress. For example, a test might cause stress in a child. Or a barking dog may frighten someone who is unfamiliar with dogs. Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives. Children must understand that stress affects everyone differently. When stressed, the brain sends impulses throughout the body, causing changes. A person's heart rate may increase, his or her breathing rate may increase, and he or she may even sweat. Stress can also cause a headache or stomachache and make one sleep more or less than usual. When the unpleasant situation is removed, stress might subside on its own. But stress could also last for a long period. Let kids know that there are various methods for dealing with stress. One method is to express one's feelings to someone. Another strategy to deal with stress is to take good care of one's health by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and exercising. My 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son both have a general understanding of what stress is merely from the explanation above. They even shared with me a few instances at school where they encountered obstacles that contributed to their stress. When talking about this matter, the children must be reminded that they can always come to you with their problems. That way, you'll be aware of what's going on in their life and will be able to discuss it with them. Some Ways to Acknowledge Children\u2019s Stress Image credit: Canva Kids, like adults, can be adept at keeping their emotions to themselves. I remember doing it as a child because I was the oldest, so I always pay special attention to my firstborn. In comparison to her little brother, she hides her feelings pretty well. I sometimes have to have a heart-to-heart talk with her to encourage her to open up. I usually trust my instinct when trying to figure out my kids\u2019 feelings or look at their facial expressions. However, I know that I won\u2019t always be right. So, I did a little digging and discovered indications of unresolved stress in youngsters on Medline Plus. The signs are divided into two categories, which are listed below. Physical Symptoms \tDecreased appetite, other changes in eating habits \tHeadache \tNew or recurring bedwetting \tNightmares \tSleep disorders \tUpset stomach or vague stomach pain \tAdditional physical symptoms without an actual sickness Emotional and Behavioural Symptoms \tAnxiety, worry \tNot able to relax \tNew or recurring fears (fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of strangers) \tClinging, unwilling to let you out of sight \tAnger, crying, whining \tLack of emotional control \tAggressive or stubborn behaviour \tReturning to behaviours that were present at a younger age \tRefuses to take part in the family or school activities It is critical to recognise when children are stressed since it can be detrimental to them. Stress or hardship that is excessively extreme, significant, long-lasting, or abrupt, according to Nemours KidsHealth, might overwhelm a child's ability to manage. Stress can be damaging when children do not get a respite from it, or when they do not have the necessary support or coping abilities. Too much stress can harm children's mental and physical health over time. How Parents Can Help Their Children Deal with Stress When it comes to my children, I know they don't like it when I force them to tell me if something is wrong. My eldest daughter, in particular, would prefer that I pay her complete attention and speak to her in a softer tone. Only then would she open up and want to accept my assistance. Kids need to know that they are safe and will be protected when they tell you something. So, I always keep that in mind when offering solutions or assisting with their problems. Give children and teenagers additional care and support. Be available to discuss and listen. Accept and validate their emotions. Tell them that they will start to feel better in due time. According to the American Psychological Association, there are other things parents and caregivers can do to assist kids and even teenagers in managing their stress: \tEnsure that children sleep well and receive adequate sleep \tBring them to exercise to stay fit \tEncourage them to talk about the problem they're facing \tMake time to have fun with them while still providing quiet\/alone time \tSpend time in nature to relax and relieve stress \tTeach children to express themselves through writing or art \tLearn and practise mindfulness together to alleviate stress Children's Feelings Are Important Image credit: Canva There are times when we unintentionally overlook paying more attention to our children's feelings due to the strain that daily life places on us (I know I am guilty of this :s). You must be curious as to when a child can begin to experience stress. I found out that even though babies and toddlers are unable to communicate what is happening around them, they can already sense whether there is tension or a stressful environment. As your children get older, be careful not to make them feel as if no one cared about their feelings. We, as parents, must do our part to assist kids in healthily managing their various. Another thing to remember is that you must handle your stress and emotions well if you want your children to learn to do the same. Keep your minds in good shape, parents! Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!