Childhood is often thought of as an idyllic time when kids are free to explore the world without worrying about adult concerns. However, kids today are exposed to stressful experiences during early childhood, such as parental separation and divorce, which can impact their future development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, early exposure to prolonged stress can result in delayed brain growth and disrupted neuron connections that can influence a child's behavior into adulthood. As a parent, you can prevent the long-term consequences of stress in your preschooler by utilizing the following strategies.
Be Alert for Signs of Stress
Young children are often unable to verbalize their stress, which makes it especially important to watch for new behaviors such as increased crying or clinginess. Preschoolers may also exhibit physical symptoms, such as potty training regression, headaches and stomach pain.
Packed schedules can stress out adults, but children rely upon routines to help them understand what will come next. Try to wake your child up and put them to bed at the same times each day so that they get the rest they need to combat stress. If your child attends a preschool program, find out what times they eat meals and nap so that you can replicate a similar schedule at home.
Use Transition Strategies
Moving from one activity to another is a common source of stress for children that can quickly add up for busy families. Transitions are an early childhood teacher's method for getting a class of young children to adjust to changes in their day, and you can use this technique at home. A transition is simply a fun way to signal that it is time to move to a new activity. A bedtime story, silly song or physical movement can reduce stress by allowing a child to slowly adjust to a new activity.
Get Active as a Family
Exercise is an effective way to ward off the worst symptoms of stress because it releases it endorphins. However, your child also needs the emotional connection that spending time together can provide. Ride bikes, play games and enjoy new experiences that will help your child feel less anxiety.
Choose a Quality Child Care Program
When your child is stressed out, it is important to ensure that they are in a calming environment throughout their entire day. A research-based child care program, such as Montessori, is essential for providing the guidance a child needs to feel comfortable enough to develop their independence while learning new skills. Take time to carefully research your child's preschool program to ensure it uses age-appropriate teaching strategies that minimize stress. Visit North End Montessori School for more information about this.
While it may seem as though early childhood is a carefree time, it is important to remember that young children often experience stressful events that can impact their future development. By recognizing the signs early and helping them to transition through big changes, you can put your child on the right path for happiness and success.