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Signs of Distress in Toddlers

Alison Weber
Posted by Alison Weber on 12/22/21 9:38 AM

Toddlerhood is a very exciting time. There are many advances in cognitive, physical and emotional growth. This is why in part toddlers are affected greatly by the world around them and they are prone to stress.

These are signs your toddler might be stressed:

 

  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Increased crying or tantrums
  • Nightmares or fear at bedtime
  • Drastic emotional changes (sadness, anger, withdrawn or clingy)
  • Physical ailments (i.e. headaches or stomaches)
  • Anxious tics or body movements (scratching, hair pulling, etc.)
  • Dependence on habits such as thumb sucking or hair chewing
  • Change in bowel movements

 

Some common causes of stress is toddlers are: 

 

  • Separation anxiety
  • New family dynamic or family changes (i.e. new sibling, death of a parent, divorce, etc.)
  • Potty training
  • Over Scheduling - or overwhelming schedules/activities can be stressful for toddlers. Make sure to try to follow your child’s rhythm. 
  • Unexpected world events (natural disaster, the COVID pandemic, etc.)

While stressors aren’t always avoidable, remember to stay calm, your children, even babies and toddlers can pick up on your emotions. A routine will also help. They not only provide a sense of safety but let your toddler feel in control and know what to expect. It is also important to schedule “breaks” whether to just rest, play or nap. You can also monitor what they are exposed to such as the news on the TV.

Emotional intelligence is also something important you can work on with your toddler. Although it is important to remain calm around your little one, it can also be important to teach them a wide variety of emotions: sad, angry, frustrated, stressed, bored, lonely, etc. A great way to start is to identify your own emotions to them and explain why you feel that way. Then when they are having a tantrum or feeling overwhelmed, try conscious breathing and helping to identify how they feel and why. 

Storybook has some great meditation stories to help your child when they are stressed or feeling overwhelmed. We also offer stories to help deal with big emotions (Try the stories: Today Sadness Came to Visit Me, Fear: I’m not Afraid of you Anymore & Color Palette). 

And always if these tactics do not decrease stress in your toddler or they are not handling stress in a healthy way, please consider seeing your pediatrician or health professional.

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Topics: Parenting

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