Children aren’t naturally equipped to deal with stress. And negligence from guardians doesn’t help. Experts weigh in.
It is quite a task for grown-ups and adults to imagine that kids are prone to stress too. Adults often look at childhood through rose-tinted glasses, failing to link stress to that with competition within kids. Singer Demi Lovato, in fact, opened up about being suicidal at the age of seven.
With the exam season on currently, one comes across cases of students committing suicide more frequently than ever. Statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that suicide rates amongst kids alone were at 9,474 in 2016.
The stress kids deal with can range from bullying and abuse to studies and competition. Built over time as a result of neglect, the stress leads them to take the drastic step.
One of the biggest mistakes that parents and guardians make, says life coach Khyati Birla, is brushing off the first tell-tale signs. “A child, in his natural state, is a happy soul — innocent and kind. They aren’t sad, depressed or anxious naturally. They have to constantly be mulling over something for it to affect them so much. And if a child is spending so much mental energy on a particular thing, it sure isn’t trivial,” she says. “Parents tend to miss out on recognising the issue at this stage. Disappearance of happiness is a big tell-tale sign that is missed,” she explains.
Once your chirpy, happy-go-lucky child gets low on energy and gets dejected, you know you need to take things seriously, says consulting psychologist Kinjal Pandya. “One can easily infer this by simply listening to the usage of negative words in things they say. It could be ‘I can’t do this,’ ‘I don’t want to do this,’ ‘I don’t feel like it,’ — all these are cries for help,” she says.
Unfortunately, these are brushed aside casually, complains Khyati. “Adults are used to stress. So they don’t think much about it. As a result, they are under the impression that the child will develop coping mechanisms with time — just like they did,” she explains, adding that this is the worst approach of all.
Kinjal says that the kind of stress ranges from several things and differs with age. “When children are seven or eight years old, the pressure on them is different. Most times it is peer pressure. When they reach the teenage years, peer pressure is fused with hormonal changes. And then it is a completely different affair,” she explains.
The only way to work around such an issue is for parents and guardians to simply be open to listening. “The child is literally telling how they feel. Do not overlook it; do not turn a deaf ear to their concerns. It is highly likely that they have been mulling over it for a long time,” says Khyati.
Once you discover the problem, Khyati urges to focus on the ‘why’. “Figure out what is making your child feel this particular way. And then concentrate on making it better,” she suggests