Helping Children Handle Stress

​​​​As children reach their school-age years, they may experience pressure from a number of sources. These may be from within children themselves, as well as from parents, teachers, peers and the larger society.

This pressure can take many forms, to which children must respond and adapt. Whether these are events are lasting, like the divorce of their parents, or merely a minor hassle like losing their homework, these demands or stresses are a part of children’s daily lives.

There is a silver lining is that when children get the chance to practice setbacks at younger ages. They develop resilience and the tools needed to be an independent adult and handle future challenges.

​Dealing with stress in daily life

Children welcome some events and are able to adapt to them with relative ease. Other events may feel to them like threats to their own or the family’s daily routines or general sense of well-being. These stresses can be more troublesome.​ Most stress faced by children is somewhere in the middle: neither welcomed nor seriously harmful, but rather a part of accomplishing the tasks of childhood and learning about themselves.

Children may have to cope with a bully on the playground, a move to a new neighborhood, a parent’s serious illness or the disappointment of a poor sports performance. They might feel a constant, nagging pressure to dress the “right” way, or to achieve ​the high grades that can put them on rack toward the “right” college. Children may also worry about making friends, dealing with peer pressure, or overcoming a physical injury or disability.

Children are sensitive not only to the changes around them, but also to the feelings and reactions of their parents. This is true even if those feelings are not communicated directly in words. If a parent loses a job, children will have to adjust to their family’s financial crisis; they must deal not only with the obvious family budgetary changes but also with the changes in their parents’ emotional states.

Good and bad stress

Not all stress is a bad thing. Moderate amounts of pressure from a teacher or a coach, for example, can motivate a child to keep her grades up in school or to participate more fully in athletic activities. Successfully managing stressful situations or events enhances a child’s ability to cope in the future.

Children are future adults, and through these experiences, they develop resilience and learn how to deal with life’s inevitable bumps and hurdles. However, when the stress is continuous or particularly intense, it can take a toll on both the psyche and the body.

Major events, especially those that forever change a child’s family, such as the death of a parent, can have lasting effects on children’s psychological health and well-being. Minor daily stresses can also have consequences.

Sudden stressful events will accelerate your child’s breathing and heartbeat, constrict blood vessels, increase blood pressure and muscle tension, and perhaps cause stomach upset and headaches. As stress persists, it can make a child more susceptible to illness and experience fatigue, loss of sleep,  nightmares, teeth-grinding, poor appetite, tantrums, or depression. Children may become irritable or their school grades​ may suffer. Their behavior and their willingness to cooperate may change.

How stress can affect children

A child’s age and development will help determine how stressful a given situation may be. Changing teachers at midyear may be a major event for a child in the first grade and merely an annoyance for a sixth-grader. How a child perceives and responds to stress depends in part on development, in part on experience, and in part on a child’s individual temperament.

How different children cope with stress

Children’s temperaments vary, and so can their ability to cope with stress and daily hassles. Some are easygoing by nature and adjust easily to events and new situations. Others are thrown off balance by changes in their lives.

All children improve in their ability to handle stress if they:

  • previously succeeded in managing challenges and feel able to do so
  • have a strong sense of self-esteem.
  • have emotional support from family and friends.

Children who have a clear sense of personal competence, and who feel loved and supported, generally do well. Talk with your pediatrician about ways to help your child manage stress.


Source: Adapted from Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12, 3rd edition (Copyright © 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Heat Exposure and Reactions

pedsheat

There are 3 main reactions to hot environmental temperatures and heat waves:

Heatstroke or Sunstroke: Symptoms include hot, flushed skin; high fever over 105° F (40.5° C) rectally; the absence of sweating (in 50%); confusion or coma; and shock. A rectal temperature is more accurate than an oral temperature in these disorders. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency with a high death rate if not treated promptly.

Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include pale skin; usually no fever but can temporarily be elevated between 100 – 102° F (37.8 – 39° C); profuse sweating; nausea, dizziness, fainting, or weakness. Most of the symptoms are caused by dehydration from sweating. Because a person can progress from heat exhaustion to heat stroke, all patients with severe symptoms (e.g., fainting) need to be examined immediately. Patients with mild symptoms (e.g., dizziness or fever) who do not respond to fluid replacement and rest also need to be seen.

Heat Cramps: Severe muscle cramps in the legs (especially calf or thigh muscles) and abdomen are present. No fever. Tightness or spasms of the hands may occur.

CAUSES

  • All 3 reactions are caused by exposure to high temperatures often with high humidity.
  • Exercising or other vigorous activity/labor during hot weather can cause heat production to exceed heat loss.
  • Poor hydration interferes with sweating and increases the risk of heat reactions.
  • Infants are at added risk because they are less able to sweat with heat stress. So are children who are vacationing in a hot climate and who have not acclimatized. The first heat wave of the summer can cause similar problems. It takes 8 to 10 days for you to become used to high summer temperatures.
  • Heat stroke (a breakdown in the temperature-regulating mechanism) usually follows exposure to a very high environmental temperature (e.g. trapped inside a hot car, steam tents, crib near a radiator or indoors during bad heat waves without air-conditioning).

First Aid For Heatstroke Or Sunstroke

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Cool the child off as rapidly as possible while awaiting EMS arrival.
  • Move him to a cool shady place or air-conditioned room.
  • Sponge the entire body surface with cool water (as cool as tolerated without causing shivering). Fan the child to increase evaporation.
  • Keep the feet elevated to counteract shock.
  • If the child is awake, give as much cold water to drink as he or she can tolerate.
  • Fever medicines are of no value for heat stroke.

First Aid For Heat Exhaustion

  • Put the child in a cool place. Have him lie down with the feet elevated.
  • Undress him (except for underwear) so the body surface can give off heat.
  • Sponge the entire body surface continuously with cool water (as cool as tolerated without causing shivering). Fan the child to increase heat loss from evaporation.
  • Give as much cold water to drink as the child can tolerate until he or she feels better.
  • For severe symptoms, drive the child in to be seen.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 8/7/2011
Last Revised: 8/11/2011 3:30:44 PM
Version Year: 2012
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Summer Reading!

summereading
The Association for Library Service to Children has announced its Summer Reading Lists for 2015.

The lists are full of book titles to keep children engaged in reading throughout the summer. Three Summer Reading book lists are available in PDF form for K-2nd, 3rd- 5th, and 6th-8th grade students. Titles were compiled and annotated by members of ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee.

Happy Reading!

Kindergarten – 2nd Grade List

3rd through 5th Grade List

• 6th through 8th Grade List

Creative Winter Creations & More

Education

By January, summer and outdoor activities seem a lifetime away for most kids. And with the holidays behind us, many of your are probably wondering how to keep everyone interested and active on cold, winter weekends. How about some creative projects!

A quick online search for “winter crafts for kids” offers up a wide variety of craft ideas for all ages.

Still searching? Here are a few websites that list Connecticut events and activities for kids. Enjoy!

Summer Activity List

summeractivity

As we move into the final weeks of summer, are you looking for something new and interesting to do with your family?

Did you know Connecticut is home to a wide variety of parks, museums and nature centers that combine educational opportunities with outdoor time and family fun? Take a look at the Connecticut Audubon Society’s website for a list of nature centers and wildlife sanctuaries; the Connecticut Forest and Park Association’s website includes information and trail maps for the state’s blue-blazed hiking trails; or check out these Connecticut museums and nature centers:

Beardsley Zoo (Bridgeport)
Bruce Museum Science Collection (Greenwich)
Children’s Museum (West Hartford)
Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut (Niantic)
Connecticut Resources Recovery Association Trash Museum and Garbage Museum (Hartford and Stratford, respectively)
Connecticut River Museum (Essex)
Connecticut Science Center (Hartford)
Connecticut State Museum of Natural History (Storrs–Univ. of CT)
Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center (Mystic)
Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill)
Discovery Museum (Bridgeport)
Earthplace (Westport)
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Plant Growth Facilities (Storrs–Univ. of CT)
Eli Whitney Museum & Workshop (New Haven)
Goodwin Conservation Center (Hampton)
Kellogg Environmental Center (Derby)
Maritime Aquarium (Norwalk)
Meigs Point Nature Center at Hammonasset Beach State Park (Madison)
Mystic Aquarium (Mystic)
Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area (Burlington)
Stamford Museum & Nature Center (Stamford)
Talcott Mountain Science Museum (Avon)
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (New Haven)

Heat Exposure and Reactions

heatreactions

There are 3 main reactions to hot environmental temperatures and heat waves:

  1. Heatstroke or Sunstroke: Symptoms include hot, flushed skin; high fever over 105° F (40.5° C) rectally; the absence of sweating (in 50%); confusion or coma; and shock. A rectal temperature is more accurate than an oral temperature in these disorders. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency with a high death rate if not treated promptly.
  2. Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include pale skin; usually no fever but can temporarily be elevated between 100 – 102° F (37.8 – 39° C); profuse sweating; nausea, dizziness, fainting, or weakness. Most of the symptoms are caused by dehydration from sweating. Because a person can progress from heat exhaustion to heat stroke, all patients with severe symptoms (e.g., fainting) need to be examined immediately. Patients with mild symptoms (e.g., dizziness or fever) who do not respond to fluid replacement and rest also need to be seen.
  3. Heat Cramps: Severe muscle cramps in the legs (especially calf or thigh muscles) and abdomen are present. No fever. Tightness or spasms of the hands may occur.

All 3 reactions are caused by exposure to high temperatures often with high humidity. Exercising or other vigorous activity/labor during hot weather can cause heat production to exceed heat loss. Poor hydration interferes with sweating and increases the risk of heat reactions. Infants are at added risk because they are less able to sweat with heat stress. So are children who are vacationing in a hot climate and who have not acclimatized. The first heat wave of the summer can cause similar problems. Did you know it takes 8 to 10 days for you to become used to high summer temperatures?

Heat stroke (a breakdown in the temperature-regulating mechanism) usually follows exposure to a very high environmental temperature (e.g. trapped inside a hot car, steam tents, crib near a radiator or indoors during bad heat waves without air-conditioning).

First Aid For Heatstroke Or Sunstroke

  • Call EMS (911) immediately.
  • Cool the child off as rapidly as possible while awaiting EMS arrival.
  • Move him to a cool shady place or air-conditioned room.
  • Sponge the entire body surface with cool water (as cool as tolerated without causing shivering).
  • Fan the child to increase evaporation.
  • Keep the feet elevated to counteract shock.
  • If the child is awake, give as much cold water to drink as he or she can tolerate.
  • Fever medicines are of no value for heat stroke.

First Aid For Heat Exhaustion

  • Put the child in a cool place. Have him lie down with the feet elevated.
  • Undress him (except for underwear) so the body surface can give off heat.
  • Sponge the entire body surface continuously with cool water (as cool as tolerated without causing shivering). Fan the child to increase heat loss from evaporation.
  • Give as much cold water to drink as the child can tolerate until he or she feels better.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 8/7/2011
Last Revised: 8/11/2011 3:30:44 PM
Version Year: 2012
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D

Treating Poison Ivy

poisonivy2

Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac commonly cause skin rashes in children during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. An allergic reaction to the oil in these plants produces the rash. The rash occurs from several hours to three days after contact with the plant and begins in the form of blisters, accompanied by severe itching.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the fluid in the blisters that causes the rash to spread. This spreading occurs when small amounts of oil remain under the child’s fingernails, on her clothing, or on a pet’s hair that then comes in contact with other parts of her body. The rash will not be spread to another person unless the oil that remains also comes in contact with that person’s skin.

Poison ivy grows as a three-leafed green weed with a red stem at the center. It grows in vinelike form in all parts of the country except the Southwest. Poison sumac is a shrub, not a vine, and has seven to thirteen leaves arranged in pairs along a central stem. Not nearly as abundant as poison ivy, it grows primarily in the swampy areas of the Mississippi River region. Poison oak grows as a shrub, and it is seen primarily on the West Coast. All three plants produce similar skin reactions. These skin reactions are forms of contact dermatitis.

Treatment
Treating reactions to poison ivy — the most frequent of these forms of contact dermatitis — is a straightforward matter.

  • Prevention is the best approach. Know what the plant looks like and teach your children to avoid it.
  • If there is contact, wash all clothes and shoes in soap and water. Also, wash the area of the skin that was exposed with soap and water for at least ten minutes after the plant or the oil has been touched.
  • If the eruption is mild, apply calamine lotion three or four times a day to cut down on the itching. Avoid those preparations containing anesthetics or antihistamines, as often they can cause allergic eruptions themselves.
  • Apply topical 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to decrease the inflammation.
  • If the rash is severe, on the face, or on extensive parts of the body, the pediatrician may need to place your child on oral steroids. These will need to be given for about six to ten days, often with the dose tapering in a specific schedule determined by your pediatrician. This treatment should be reserved for the most severe cases.

Call the pediatrician if you notice any of the following:

  • Severe eruption not responsive to the previously described home methods
  • Any evidence of infection, such as blisters, redness, or oozing
  • Any new eruption or rash
  • Severe poison ivy on the face
  • Fever

Last Updated 5/11/2013. Source Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Cabin Fever?

winterprojects

Chances are, by now, you’ve got a case of cabin fever. If you don’t, your kids surely do! Thankfully, we live in New England, so in between the snowstorms and freezing temperatures, we get those gifts of warmer days tucked in between—like they’re predicting for this Sunday.

But, what do you do when the thermometer doesn’t inch above 35 degrees for weeks?

The folks at Family Education, an online network for parents, teachers and kids, suggests these Best Indoor Activities for Winter Breaks:

  • Construct an indoor obstacle course
  • Paint the windows
  • Make silly putty
  • Write a story
  • Play chess
  • Make soap crayons
  • Make a time capsule
  • Create a family tree
  • Build a clay sculpture
  • Make cookies

Do your kids like to read? Indie Bound, an online resource of independent booksellers, maintains a list of inspired recommendations for kids. Check out its Winter 2013-2014 list!

Or maybe you’re looking for a fun new craft project? Pinterest is a great place for ideas and how-tos. Try these:

If all else fails, remember spring is just seven weeks away — it’ll be here before you can say polar vortex!