Stress is the epidemic of the modern world. All health concerns are associated with stress and as time goes on, stress goes up and stress symptoms show earlier and earlier in life. I was shocked to discover that psychiatrists now prescribe drugs to children as young as 3 years old!
Yes, instead of teaching children to deal with the feelings they have, which is what emotional intelligence is all about, we give them drugs that prevent their body from coping and developing the mechanisms to cope with stress.
Use of drugs to manage stress prevents the body from producing chemicals to calm the body. Over time, the stress increases and we have to increase the use of drugs to cope with natural and healthy life processes. Sadness, disappointment and anger are all healthy feelings, essential for our survival. The use of drugs to suppress them sends a message to the body that they are not healthy feelings for us and makes us helpless and powerless.
As a parent, I have a strong desire to keep my kids away from therapists (yes, even doctors, as much as I can). Why? Because for some reason, kids who are in therapy for a long time form the belief that something is wrong with them. As a life coach and special education professional, I can tell you that working with disabilities and learning difficulties is much easier than working with a child that thinks something is wrong with him or her.
So if my kids have a cold, I would rather give them vitamin C, get them to drink water and meditate, send them to bed early, Reiki them, do something fun and sing songs, rather than take them to the doctor. It has worked well so far and my oldest daughter is 26 years old.
This does not mean I ignore the symptoms or the stress they have, but I would rather use some stress-management tools myself than go to someone who will tell them something is wrong with them or, God forbid, give them medication, along with the idea that medication is the way to handle stress.
Stress is not healthy, especially if children are under stress over a long period. It usually means they cannot find a coping mechanism and yes, if not addressed, it will become anxiety, depression and start influencing their physical world and functioning.
Psychiatrists’ job is to give medication to mental issues. They use a book (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), given to them by the pharmaceutical companies, with the name of every disorder and the medication to prescribe for it. If you ever look at this book, you will quickly conclude that 100% of us have some form of mental disorder.
Medication is not the answer. Education and emotional support are!
Kids’ Stress Symptoms
Here is a list of stress symptoms that will tell you that your child is stressed. You do not have to go to the doctor and please keep your child away from psychiatrists.
- The child has difficulties sleeping
- The child loses interest in things he or she used to like
- There is a sudden change in relationships with friends
- The child prefers to be alone more than usual
- The child is complaining more than usual
- There is a drop in academic achievement
- The child is trying to avoid going to school
- The child is afraid to try new things
- The child avoids joining family dinners, outings and other events
- The child stops sharing with you what is happening
- Aggressive behavior and snappy answers to questions
- Increase in feeling “sick” – 3 times in six months is usually a sign something is going on
- Increase in expression of frustration, helplessness, anger and bitterness
- Overuse of the words “It’s is not fair”
- Challenge concentrating
- Being clingy or needing continuous attention
- Dependency on routines and sign of addiction to food, activity, TV shows, clothes, games, etc
- Increase in lying
The truth is that we are all stressed these days, and children are often stressed in response to our stress. The solution is not to be angry with them (and project even more stress) or to give them medication to make our own life easier. The solution is to help them and teach them how to cope as soon as stress symptoms appear.
Join me next time with easy ways to get over kids’ stress.
Until then, be happy!