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Recognizing and AddressingStress in Children/Youth: 

Recognizing and Addressing Stress in Children/Youth Marilyn F. Rasmussen, Ph.D. Youth Devlopment/4-H Specialist Cooperative Extension Service South Dakota State University 2002-2003

What is Stress?: 

What is Stress? Types of Stress: Eustress is the positive stress which motivates our everyday actions Distress can be defined as 'a real or imagined imbalance between the demands on the individual or family and the individual’s or family’s ability to meet those demands.' (National Ag Safety Database and Clemson Extension 2002)

How do you know if yourchild is stressed?: 

How do you know if your child is stressed? Preschoolers -regress to baby talk, bedwetting, thumb sucking, fearful of sleeping alone, and easily agitated Elementary School -irritable, aggressive, clingy, experience poor concentration Early Adolescents -complain of headaches, stomach aches, have trouble sleeping and perform poorly in school Older Adolescents -less interested in friends, show an increase in irresponsible behavior

How can I help my young child deal with stress?: 

How can I help my young child deal with stress? Safety and security result from structure and normal patterns of family life, routine Help them talk about what’s bothering them, let them acknowledge that they may be fearful Communication – children may need to hear things more than once to understand them and for continuity of the message Monitor television watching – avoid constant reminders of the stressful event

How can I help my young child deal with stress?: 

How can I help my young child deal with stress? Encourage your children to write about their fears or have them draw pictures Include play and humor to decrease tension Reassure children that the family can cope with problems Let them know what efforts are being made to address a family situation that may be causing stress Be honest, acknowledge your own fears

How can I help myteen deal with stress?: 

How can I help my teen deal with stress? Monitor your teen’s health and emotional stability Watch for overloading – too many activities Model and teach stress management skills and relaxation techniques, including regular exercise and proper nutrition Support your adolescent’s involvement in sports/other social activities

How can I help my teen deal with stress?: 

How can I help my teen deal with stress? Share the family’s plan to reduce stress, including economic stress Involve adolescents in family decision-making and planning – family meetings Teens need to be responsible and feel needed, but not overwhelmed Help your teen develop his/her communication skills and assertiveness in positive ways

Communication : A Great De-Stressor: 

Communication : A Great De-Stressor Positive Communication Skills Help Prevent Stress Communication takes time. Make it a priority. Communication includes talking AND listening. Communication is verbal, non-verbal and para-verbal. Communication is strategic.

Communication Takes Time: 

Communication Takes Time Plan an appropriate time to communicate Involve all the appropriate people Understand influences on communication Personality type Energy level Past discussions Knowledge of the topic

Communication Includes Talking and Listening: 

Communication Includes Talking and Listening Establish rules for 'talking' time Learn to reflect, summarize and clarify statements Practice active listening, repeating what your child says so that you have interpreted it correctly Use 'I' messages in expressing your feelings about things

What are “I” messages?: 

What are 'I' messages? 'YOU' Messages Belittles or blames Makes the other person responsible for your feelings 'YOU disappoint me or YOU make me angry' 'I' Messages Avoids blaming Lets you express your feelings directly and specifically Desired outcome = listener assumes responsibility for his/her own behavior.

“I” Messages: 

'I' Messages Example of statements that increase tension: You make me so mad! Why would you want to get a tattoo? What a stupid idea! Examples of 'I' messages: I get angry when you don’t come to my games because it’s embarrassing. I feel uncomfortable when you talk about getting tattoos because I know that many people will judge you because you have a tattoo.

“I” Messages Have 3 Parts: 

'I' Messages Have 3 Parts Feelings – what effect does their behavior have on your feelings? Behavior – what it is, exactly, that the other person has done or is doing? Effect – what is happening because of their behavior?

Communication is Verbal,Non-verbal and Para-verbal: 

Communication is Verbal, Non-verbal and Para-verbal Non-verbal includes gestures, postures, interpersonal space, facial expressions and eye contact Para-verbal includes rate of speech, amount of speech, tone of voice

Communication is Strategic: 

Communication is Strategic Timing and energy levels Location or place Gender Realistic expectations Family meeting

The Family Meeting: 

The Family Meeting Goals of a Family Meeting Positive family time Preventing problems or solving one before it gets too big Exchanging ideas about feelings andamp; expectations Organization Assigning responsibilities Planning for work and play

Family Meeting Rules: 

Family Meeting Rules Include all family members No yelling or name calling allowed Decide on the topics to be discussed ahead of time Try to achieve consensus rather than majority rules No distractions, such as TV or phone Take turns Strive for equal roles Focus on the family’s strengths and positive aspects of the family’s day to day functioning

Family Meeting Techniques: 

Family Meeting Techniques Listen actively and try not to interrupt Make sure that you understand what is said Clarify feelings so they are not misinterpreted Use 'I' messages Don’t shame or ridicule, threaten or preach Stick to established rules when there is conflict

When is outside help needed for your stressed-out child?: 

When is outside help needed for your stressed-out child? Frequent physical complaints – headaches, etc. Persistent irritability crying, angry outbursts, yelling Lack of interest in peer or social relationships Reckless behavior Alcohol or drug abuse School truancy or poor school performance Changes in sleep cycle, chronic fatigue Change in appetite Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

Where do I go for Help?: 

Where do I go for Help? Sowing the Seeds of Hope: Responding to the Mental Health Needs of Farm Families. (A Rural Service Directory) Family doctor Pastor Hospitals or clinics School counselor or university counseling centers

A Program on Communicating with Children and Youth, Especially During Stressful TimesYouth Development/4-H Cooperative Extension ServiceSouth Dakota State UniversityContributors:Marilyn Rasmussen, Kathyrn Reeves & Ann Michelle Daniels: 

A Program on Communicating with Children and Youth, Especially During Stressful Times Youth Development/4-H Cooperative Extension Service South Dakota State University Contributors: Marilyn Rasmussen, Kathyrn Reeves andamp; Ann Michelle Daniels

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