Is Your Toddler Stressed?

Just like adults, young children can experience stress for a variety of reasons—a change in schedule, a new baby in the family, a new Nanny, potty training, or even something as basic as catching a glimpse of a startling story on the evening news.

Since toddlers are at varying levels of language development, your child may be unable to voice their concerns, so it’s important to watch for behavioral signs. Headaches, stomachaches, an increase in crying or tantrums, nightmares, or changes in sleep or eating habits can all be signs of stress. According to Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution, in an article written for Parents magazine, these symptoms don’t automatically indicate stress, they could be related to misbehavior, habits or growth. But she explains that if a child’s behavior worsens, it could be a sign of something more.

So how does one go about helping a toddler cope with stressful situations? There are a few ways.

  • It’s important for children to have some level of continuity—especially during the holidays. Try to maintain a steady schedule despite holiday travel, shopping and family events. If that’s not possible, try to go slowly and allow ample time for rest and breaks.
  • Be careful of TV. The holiday season is generally more overwhelming than the rest of the year. Even if you’re usually careful of your child’s TV consumption, during family get-togethers, holiday parties and other events, there’s a chance your child will unintentionally glimpse something that seems scary to them.
  • Be extra affectionate. No matter what is happening in your family and in your child’s life, extra hugs, kisses and stories show your child that they are still your number one priority, even if your holiday schedule is swirling crazily around you.

Toddler stress usually diminishes with time and growth, but if your toddler continues to show worrying signs, it’s best to seek professional help.

Photo Credit: Travis Swan/flickr

Childhood Stress, Tips for Parents childhood health