Stress and Children

“Children are no different than when I grew up”, one parent was heard to remark. I tend to agree and disagree with this comment. Yes, children are still young people needing to pass through a variety of stages in order to mature into adulthood. But, the life stresses that children of today pass through, have indeed increased greatly. With parent divorce and remarriage, parental substance abuse, child abuse, neglect and our constant family busyness as we work endless hours rushing our kids from activity to activity, have all increased children’s stress levels.

According to recent studies by the Center of Disease Control and the American Institute of Stress, nearly half of children in the US report stress symptoms from headaches to short tempers. Even children as young as 9, are now experiencing panic attacks. It was also reported that from 1980 to 1997 the number of 10-14 year olds who committed suicide increased 109 percent.

Some parents have begun to fight back by reorganizing the involvement level in their children’s lives. As the old saying goes, “too much of a good thing, is too much”. One youngster recently showed me his schedule for the week. He was to have two soccer matches, soccer practice, church choir, youth group, a music lesson, a band event and play practice. All good activities in their own right, but realistically how much family time can take place with a schedule like that. Overdoing can be addicting! The first question parents must ask themselves is, “Are we teaching our children how to relax and relate in a family setting”? Families are where we learn “being skills”, that is how to pull back from the world and relax. It is also a place to learn social skills and how to interact in close personal relationships. Secondly parents must ask themselves, “Are we having enough family time in order to accomplish this”?

It was recently reported that 1/3 of families eat a family meal together. Of that 1/3, half of them watch TV while they eat. All of this poses that question, “If we were to be accused of spending family time together, would there be enough evidence to convict us”?. . .Simplify!

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