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Take a Chill Pill, Kids

Take a Chill Pill, Kids

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Published by: ivan_tan_26 on Apr 05, 2011
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TODAYonline | Print

4/5/11 2:42 PM

Take a chill pill, kids
04:46 AM Apr 05, 2011

by Zafirah Salim

ADULTS tend to view the world of children as happy and carefree. After all, they don't have jobs to keep or bills to pay, so what could they possibly be stressed about? Associate Professor Daniel Fung, a senior consultant and chief of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), describes stress as "the reaction to some change in one's environment". He added: "Plenty of changes occur in the growing up years; and our mind and body reacts to them. The inability to handle these changes is what causes stress." Is your child under stress? Since children are not able to verbalise their problems, they tend to show signs instead. Hence, parents should monitor their child and note if they are undergoing any behavioural changes. Dr Ng Koon Hock, a consultant psychiatrist at Thomson Paediatric Centre, who spoke at the First Mums' and Dads' Congress earlier this year, said: "Signs and symptoms include irritability, non-compliance with instructions, social withdrawal, crying, clinginess, poor sleep, loss of appetite, or complaints of physical symptoms and frequent physical illnesses. "Other signs include poor concentration and loss of interest in school, studies and homework, refusal of school, deterioration in school grades, tardiness, lethargy, procrastination, preoccupation with addictive activities like playing electronic games, and displaying signs of anxiety, worry and sadness." Coping with stress Stress may be inevitable, but it can definitely be reduced with good stress management skills. According to Assoc Prof Fung, "early preparation" is key. Parents should inform their children about stress and that they should expect it in their lives. He added that anticipating potentially stressful situations will also help. For instance, when children enter school for the first time, parents can let them know ahead of time about the possible stressful situations they might face, such as having to adapt to an unfamiliar environment or having to make new friends. "Parents can also expose them to similar situations like bringing them to a playground so that the children can play and mingle with other kids." Zafirah Salim What parents can do 1. Spend quality time Make time for your children each day, even if you are busy. Dr Ng said: "Doing interesting activities together, or just spending time together with no specific agenda, like having a meal, can help develop the relationship." Assoc Prof Fung also suggests "doing any activity that the children enjoy" to help them relax. 2. Cut down on workload
http://www.todayonline.com/Print/Health/EDC110405-0000252/Take-a-chill-pill,-kids Page 1 of 2

TODAYonline | Print

4/5/11 2:42 PM

Most parents tend to cram too many activities in their children's schedule - from piano lessons to tuition classes. Added activities mean added pressure for the children. Parents should learn to set realistic expectations for their children and, more importantly, place the children's happiness above all. Seek their opinion and don't force them if they are not keen on it. Teach them time management skills so they learn to schedule their time to get things done more efficiently. 3. Have an active lifestyle Work hard, and play hard. Physical activities like soccer or running are good as they double up as exercise and stress relievers. 4. Talk things out Encourage children to talk to you about their problems so they won't bottle up their feelings. Assoc Prof Fung advises parents not to wait until the children are stressed but to "conduct problem-solving daily with them". 5. Teach children to be assertive Assoc Prof Fung said: "Children need to acquire resilience." Those who are afraid to stand up for themselves tend to have difficulty handling stressful situations. Parents should teach their children to be assertive. One way is to role-play problem situations and impart skills to handle those situations in an appropriate, non-aggressive manner.
URL http://www.todayonline.com/Health/EDC110405-0000252/Take-a-chill-pill,-kids

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