6-8 yrs
Socio-Emotional Skills

Understanding How 6-8 Year Olds Handle Stress

Your child could be experiencing levels of stress that might seem unimaginable to you. Support them in an effective way.
stress pencil

Children aged six to eight are well on their way to becoming more independent. They are also more aware of the world around them. They still rely on adults, but their peers and the media play a larger role. School-age children are able to talk about their feelings and concerns in more involved ways than preschoolers, but they may be unwilling to open up or worry about upsetting you. Make sure your child knows you are there to talk to them about whatever it is that’s on their mind.

Your six to eight year old is learning to:

  • Understand other people’s points of view
  • Master new skills, take risks and make mistakes
  • Make decisions that require a more flexible viewpoint: Six and seven-year-olds may still see things as either “right” or “wrong,” while 7 to 8-year-olds begin to see alternatives to just right/wrong or good/bad.
  • Rely on children his age and adults other than parents for information and reassurance. Seven and eight-year-olds also begin to rely on themselves more.
  • Care about what parents, other adults, and children her age think about her
  • Enjoy play that involves rules and teamwork
  • Look for ways to lead as well as follow
  • Control his impulses and wait patiently for the “payoff”
  • Collect and organize things more

Your six to eight year old may be concerned or upset by these “everyday” situations:

  • New school or new friends
  • Homework, tests, and grades
  • Competing with other kids
  • Sports or other after-school activities
  • Learning barriers
  • Pressure to succeed
  • Respond to a special recognition for doing well
  • Not enough time to do everything

Your six to eight year old often displays his/her concerns through actions rather than words. Here are some things to watch for:

  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Headaches or stomachaches
  • Nightmares or difficulty sleeping
  • Talking less than usual
  • Whining
  • Losing interest in friends or activities
  • Focusing on something too much or not concentrating at all
  • Problems at school (low grades, getting in trouble, not wanting to go to school)

Keep in mind that these behaviors may appear in all children at one time or another. If they are ongoing or frequent, however, they can be signs of stress.

Here are some ideas that will help you turn everyday moments into opportunities to learn what’s on your child’s mind:

Television time: When you watch shows with your child, point out and discuss various situations and scenarios that might be relevant in your child’s life. Ask questions about the characters such as, “Why do you think the boy carrying all those books is wearing glasses?”

Time with friends:Take your child and a friend on an outing. You may learn what is on his/her mind by asking questions such as, “What is your favorite thing to do together? Why?”

Quiet time: Your physical and emotional reassurances mean a lot. Enjoy a hug and reflect on your child’s day. Say things like, “I was proud of you today when…”Follow up by asking, ‘How did that make you feel?’”

Source: Sesame Street – Stress


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