Six triggers of stress and depression in children and how you can help

Some of the common triggers of stress and depression in children and tips on how you can offer your support, have been revealed by wellbeing experts at charity CABA.

A general view of pupils sitting an exam
A general view of pupils sitting an exam

It comes after this paper discovered that the number of under 18 year olds referred to mental health services in West Sussex is at a five-year high, according to figures released by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust after an FOI request. Read more here  CABA said most adults think of their childhood as the ‘happiest time of their life’ but said we forget ‘too quickly that being a child – even as young as 1 – can be stressful’. Here are six common triggers and tips on how to support a child who is experiencing stress:

Many children feel under pressure to do well at school. And for some, all the lessons they have to learn during the day  plus the homework they have to do in the evening  can seem overwhelming and if a child falls behind, this can lead to stress. It can often mean they dont have enough free time to play or do other fun activities.

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Experts say exams can put children and teenagers under pressure, so much so that a recent report by Childline revealed the service delivered more than 3,000 counselling sessions on exam stress during 2016 - 2017, which is 11% higher than the previous 2 years.
CABA say that when children start a new school, making friends can put them under pressure. Those who dont make friends easily may also feel isolated. Children can also worry when they argue and fall out with their friends. Additionally, making friends can be difficult and as such, many children feel under pressure to fit in  and sometimes, this means they do things they may not feel comfortable with or are unsure of.
Experts at CABA say that during 2016/2017 there were more than 24,000 Childline counselling sessions with children about bullying. And according to the NSPCC, studies suggest there are more than 16,000 young people are absent from school due to bullying.
According to the SABA experts, its impossible to keep disturbing news about things like war, natural disasters and terrorist atrocities from children these days. As a result, some children may worry about their safety as well as that of their parents, family members and friends.
From moving to a new house to parents separating, family difficulties and changes to the norm can be tough on a child or teenager and can cause signs of stress, according to CABA experts
Parents can help by making time for them. CABA say, that although all parents are busy these days, its important to spend more time than usual with your children if you think theyre worried about something. Make yourself available for fun activities or just being in the same room as them. Ask them about their day and show an interest in things that are important to them. But try to avoid forcing them to talk about their worries  theyll open up when they feel comfortable talking about it.
Experts claim getting the right amount of sleep and rest can help children become more resilient to stress. Children need different amounts of sleep at different ages  find out how many hours your children need by visiting NHS Choices.
Good nutrition is also essential if you want to boost your childs coping skills. Try to make sure theyre eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. If your children are resistant to eating fruit and veg, there are lots of ways to get them into their diet, according to CABA.
CABA experts suggest it may be useful to remind your children that some level of stress is perfectly normal in life, and that everyone is affected by it and has to find ways of coping. Explaining that its okay to feel what theyre feeling could give them the confidence they need to manage their stress levels. If it helps, try talking about times when youve been stressed, and explain how you tackled it.
Physical activity can help children and adults alike manage stress, so CABA advise that you make sure your children are getting plenty of exercise. Other things you could try with them include relaxation techniques and even things like breathing exercises. Also try leading by example  if you use these methods to manage your own stress levels, your children are more likely to follow in your footsteps.