Children are fragile, and it is the job of a parent to protect them as much as possible against physical and psychological threats. Most parents do their best to ensure a stable environment and a supportive home. Even in homes that promote stability, children can still face stressors and anxieties that threaten their emotional and physiological well-being.
As a parent, your job is to address environmental stress, help your child understand and cope with such threats, and limit the lasting effects on immunity and overall health. However, before trying to make things right, you need to understand how childhood stress is a physiological problem and how you can prevent it.
What Is Childhood Stress?
Stress can be a result of psychosocial experiences or internal struggles. Your child can experience stress due to academic pressure, family drama, or friendship hardships, regardless of age. Additionally, your child can put tremendous pressure on themselves to perform and meet expectations, even when these perceptions are self-inflicted.
Childhood stress is often a result of overwhelming feelings and an inadequate vocabulary to express them. While it can be challenging to spot when a child is stressed, some common signs include:
Children are incredibly perceptive. It is relatively common for children to concern themselves with "adult" worries. If they hear parents arguing or talking about money, they can become worried, especially since many of these problems are beyond their understanding.
Can Stress Weaken the Immune System?
Not all stress is bad. Typical or positive stress can often help people improve performance and work ethic. Positive stress is not persistent or long-lasting; it tends to dissipate quickly and act as a motivator.
Unfortunately, prolonged or chronic stress can result in negative physiological responses and intense emotional experiences. Chronic stress can affect your child's immunity and health. When the brain is dealing with chronic stressors, it can alter its chemistry, promoting overactivity in the HPA axis and boosting the production of cortisol, the body's stress hormone. Too much cortisol in the system can worsen the immune system and inflammatory responses, meaning illnesses and infections can become worse.
How To Reduce Stress in Your Child?
To help your child cope and curb stress, you must teach them how to vocalize their emotions and provide alternative outlets. For instance, helping your child talk about their anxiety while encouraging active play or exercise can help reduce stress and promote endorphins, making your child feel better.
Additionally, parents often underestimate the value of quality time with their children. Simply being present and involved in your child's life and experiences provides tremendous support, which helps combat stress.
What To Do if Your Child Gets Sick From Stress?
Chronic stress can result in illness, both physiological and psychological. Many parents are not equipped to handle such elevated levels of stress alone. It is best to take your child to a medical professional if and when stress meets chronic stages.
Other Ways To Help Strengthen Your Child's Immunity
Your child's immune system depends on nutritional and environmental support. The most effective ways to support your child's immune system and development are through a balanced diet and physical exercise. Aside from ensuring your child gets a minimum of one hour of exercise per day, you can also include dietary supplements, such as those offered by Wellements, to boost immune function.
While you might want to protect your child from every stressor, stress is a natural part of life. Your child needs to develop natural and psychological defenses to combat the adverse effects of stress. You can help by teaching them to vocalize emotions and channel energy into activities. Still, when necessary, do not be afraid to involve a qualified medical professional for support.