Emergency and Disasters Take 5
Helping Children Deal with Stress
Stress is a hot topic these days. We talk about how it affects our own well-being, but we also need to consider how stress can affect young children’s behavior, learning, and development.
Understanding how our bodies respond to stress enables us to recognize it in young children, provide responsive care to buffer stress, and help children cope with it.
If we want our children to be able to overcome adversity and view challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation, we need to help them become resilient.
Learn to recognize the signs - Children may become irritable, bossy, withdrawn or start acting out when they don’t know how to deal with their feelings. They may self-sooth by sucking their thumb, twirling hair, or holding tight to a favorite stuffed animal
Acknowledge, but don't give into fear - It is important to let your child talk about their feelings and find ways to manage them. However, you can’t always avoid the situations or objects that they may be afraid of, such as a loud thunderstorm. Instead, try to treat them naturally and acknowledge the situation and how they feel about it.
Help them change their thoughts - Explore the “reality” of your child's fear to help them get a true picture of what might be happening. Teach them how to break down their fear into manageable parts so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Teach relaxation and coping - Try different techniques such as controlled breathing, movement activities, or distraction to help children learn appropriate ways to regulate themselves, manage stress, and cope with the situation. Try some of these techniques.
Assure them that they are not alone - Many times, children cope by seeking contact or interaction with a trusted and loving adult. That's why it's important for you to be there for them. Your support goes a long way to help your child deal with anxious feelings.
Have questions about the impact of COVID-19?
Child Care Aware has resources to help you talk with your children and hand the stress. Visit our website at

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