stress in children and how to overcome it

56 replies, Page 1

ujalali 2010-03-05 11:25:33


hi all,

my child,close to 4.5 years old, who otherwise is intelligent and sharp, very compassionate towards the needs of others and a very sensitive child, for sometime now say a few months, i am noticing that she behaves diffrently other than usual these days. for example cries too quickly if someone says something. is not concentrating on her work as she used to. i have thought about it quite  bit, and have failed to understand what could be causing this. please help.

aanchal 2010-03-05 12:20:40


sudden change in behavior in kids is usually due to a bad experience, such an experience could very well go unnoticed by others and thus it remains difficult to judge whats disturbing the child so much. the experience could be of intense fear, embarrassment, jealousy, anxiety at home/play-area/school with parents/teachers/friends/maid/relatives or complete stranger. small children find it difficult to express their feelings verbally. also, they cannot recall "that incident" upon asking or probing, probably because many times these incidents may not affect them consciously.

u can use play-therapy method to find out whats going on in her mind. if u feel the problem is too severe, or is increasing day by day, consult a psychologist, who should be able to help u out in a couple of sessions.


geethsrk 2010-03-06 14:31:44


Hi Aanchal,

Mine is a sensitive child (3.5 yrs). I did find out what was disturbing him. Whats the best way to help him overcome the fear? Its very simple - he doesnt like to colour and when the teacher forced him to finish colouring, he got upset and now cries at the thought of a colouring class. Though he colours if I coax him at home, when I try talking to him about colouring at his playschool, he gets upset, face changes.

Do you think as parent I can sit down at his school during the colouring hours and help him face that? Or if I start doing this it will become a habit of him hiding behind me everytime he doesnt want to face something in life? I keep telling him that he should not have any fear of doing things. What are the other ways of helping him overcome this? He is happy doing other activities and very much a happy child, just a bit too sensitive for the world we live in.




aanchal 2010-03-06 16:45:46


hi geetha,

all children are sensitive..some show it while some hide their sensitivity behind the facade of 'indifference' or 'aggresive boldness'..what could look like a small episode to us, could be very devastating to a child. some children fall apart at the experience of being scolded, while some get traumatized experiencing separation. what will affect a particular child depends upon the kind of fear/need that is most intense in his psyche. for example, if a child thrives on approval and acceptance by people around, he could get very anxious/depressed if someone tells him he is looking shabby and 'unkissable'. its a good idea to see what your child thrives on. is it independence, which got shaken by a forceful teacher? or is it identity, which got shaken by having to do an unwanted activity? every child has 1-2 strong ideas and he/she doesnt like it to be jolted.may be talking to him in this direction will help.

its not a bad idea if u sit in his drawing classes(if the teacher allows u, which i dont think she will), and dont worry about him getting dependent upon u everytime he needs to hide away. in fact, we shouldnt think too much about dependence at such a young age. children need our support to fall back on. we feel that its a harsh world and our children should be independent and self-efficient from a very early age. but in the process of doing that, we make them more anxious and fearful. our kids need to feel that we are there for them, no matter what..that will give them a solid feeling of being anchored safely. and it is this 'anchor' that gives way to true independence, as children dont feel afraid in venturing out then.

some practical things u can do for coloring problem is to do activities together which involve a lot of color concepts(eg, paly holi, make rangoli, dabbing, color paper cutting-pasting, making artifacts using colored aatta/vegetables ) also, try 'magic books' (where u use watered brush and a painting comes out)..such 'magical or funny' books/games should get his interest.

all the best..and keep us posted!!


vkudige 2010-03-06 23:11:37


 My girl is 3.5 years of age, she is very cute and playful.  she is a lil stubborn on what she want and cannot compromise.  she still wets her bed at night times. is it normal, when do kids comeout of it usually?  should i put her on some medications?


Please advice



geethsrk 2010-03-07 17:31:19


hi Aanchal,

Wow! Your reply made me re-think in a different angle.

Also I realised that he likes to use water colours and loves painting. What he didnt like was crayoning within boundaries. He did mention that mam asked him to colour within boundaries and that he cried. He likes to draw stuff himself and call it a ship or a beak or a tiger etc. I sometimes wonder when 17 of the 18 kids sit down and colour, mine is the only one sitting in the library - whats wrong with the kiddo!! Though the school has a free art class once in a while where the kids can do what interests them and also days when they can use water colours, the problem seems to be the crayons, may be he is not yet ready to hold pencil.

Though the problem was colouring, I liked your point behind us forcing the kid to be independent.  I have to let my son know that I will be around to help him.  The more I wanted him to be independent the more dependent he has became. I do have some homework here. :) Thanks for the reply.



aanchal 2010-03-07 20:42:44


@vkudige: children between 3-5 are in transition phase from safe and familiar environment of home to unfamiliarity and anxieties of school and outside world. they want to achieve and master the independence that is demanded and expected from them. at the same time, they do not want to let go that cozy and warm feeling they get from parents at home. so they oscillate between the need to be independent and dependent. this ambivalence can make them very moody. so parents need to bear with the pint sized teenagers' tantrums!!! dont worry, she will come out of it eventually.

bedwetting is a very tricky problem. sometimes kids as young as 1 year old stop wetting their beds. but sometimes they continue to do so even at the age of 5-6. i feel, its normal to sometimes wet beds, but if bedwetting happens everynight beyond 5-6 years, then it could be a sign of some underlying fear. it could also be due to something as simple as feeling cold at nights. if your child talks in sleep, doesnt get a sound sleep, wakes up screaming or crying then the factor of underlying fear has more chances of being there.



saketchiaai 2010-03-11 10:41:02


Hi Anchal

I am new to this blog. but I find ur answers very much resolving.  ur language is so simple..I am impressed.

My son is 2 & half. His pictorial memory is very sharp. i.e. he can recognize near about 100 logos. while walking, he points out all advetisement logos. How can I help him to boost?


aanchal 2010-03-11 12:13:31


dear madhavi, recognizing 100 logos at the age of 2.6 is something amazing!! wow!! actually, i wouldnt worry about boosting it further..instead, i would wish to channelise it, without letting it dominate all other aptitudes. let him watch concept CDs and play with pictorial games, puzzles that aim at memory, concepts of various kinds. i am sure he will learn things very fast considering his skills!!

one word of caution..while we should let our kids know their strengths and weaknesses, its not very advisable to make them concentrate on one particular strength only..while we must praise about their abilities, they should not grow up into thinking overconfidently about those skills.

take care :)


geethsrk 2010-03-24 15:02:01


Hi Aanchal,

I found a huge change in a few weeks. When I spoke to my son, he was apparently scared of his drawing sir (who was new to school also). So when he was introduced to him and said his hellos he is so interested in crayoning and he looks forward for his classes these days. Even at home he has changed so much, he is happy to colour. And I did hear from his teacher that he has improved a lot.

The biggest learning was for me. I had given up on him, assumed he would never be interested in colouring and he would stay that way. And now I realised that a small change in my attitude and when I told him that I believed he could crayon very well, has changed his attitude towards colouring.

Thank You,



aanchal 2010-03-24 15:34:49


hi geetha,

m glad i could be of some help..a psychologist is just someone who can look into others' problems objectively and give appropriate answers/solutions..the biggest hope a child has is his/her mother who does the right thing to handle the the credit goes to you mainly for being able to understand your child's problem in the initial stages and support him strongly.

hope things improve further from here..take care :)


PD 2010-03-24 16:33:40


I loved this discussion! Thanx!.....Please do go to the link I am will help all of us moms to think and understand our kids better......offers a different perspective....away from the norm!


And by the way....I have a 4 1/2 yr old son who I decided to homeschool, because of the stress he and we were going thru due to the schooling experience....



Mirra 2010-06-20 01:28:22



Hi Anchal,

Am really impressed by the way u have answered the queries of  many moms... .I actually came to know abt this site just today only.

My problem is dealing with first kid upon the arrival of the second one.My second kid Arvindh was born when my first lil  girl Adhya was just two years old. Before  my son's arrival she was pampered too much.. always lifted by M_I_L and others.

She could not accept her little brother.. though I knew the the concept of always attending the first one's need .. not pampering the little one in front of her .. I could not teach the same to the elders at home... so my daughter had a stressful life after my son's arrival...

its been two years that is adhya is now 4 n 1/2 years old I have been thinking to take her to child counsellor or rather I going and getting tips to handle her

Now she does not have sharing attitude, always wants  more than her brother, hits him ifshe does not get the thing she wants,wants  to be lifted when her brother needs me...,very stubborn n adament .. I need to shout n sometime go to the extent of beating her to make her do something..  seeing her even my son is copying the bad habits...

I need your help regarding this... how do I handle it , though I know its very late....






PD 2010-06-20 14:21:10



I think many of us make this mistake.....The first borns usually have a hard time I think, because everyone is asking them to give in and share with the little is hard to make sacrifices at that age and understand another's point of view I think. Sometimes, we expect too much of these little kids....after all she is only 4 1/2! I think we often make the mistake of expecting them to behave like little adults, when they are kids. And there is a readiness for everything......learning, making friends, sharing......everything. Only if they have had enough time and experience to possess things, will they want to give up and share a few things. So have we given them enough time to possess - toys, people, grandparents, parents......?We need to look at ourselves first I think.


Pavith 2010-06-21 12:38:57


 Hi Anchal,

Iam happy on seeing your replies. My daughter is 3 yrs and 8 mths old. She has become adament and stubborn. Really worried on her behaviour. Iam a working mother. Will that affect the attitude of my daughter? If I tend to scold her she is telling" dont want to live here and she is leaving" this really hurts me. In the evenings I used to spend lot of time with her. Will take her to our terrace, play with her and used to tell her that she is very important in our life love her a lot. But still could see some changes. Iam really worried. Please help me..





aanchal 2010-06-21 14:32:37


dear mirra,

sibling rivalry is very fact it is an essential part of development. a child who has not shared his/her parents with anyone, finds it very difficult to adjust to the idea of being ignored/neglected by them (yes, thats how kids feel no matter how hard we try to 'listen to them' first, once the younger one comes)..shouting, spanking wont help at all. it will rather worsen the situation. i know its hard to control yr frustration, but learn to ignore your daughter's crankiness, if it leads to unmanageable frustration in u.

these pointers should help:

  • Tell her things about her infancy, i.e. how cute she was, how much you enjoyed with her being first-time parents, how she would eat-poop-sleep-repeat Do this by showing her snaps, clothes. The aim is to reassure her that she as an infant was given her due and what the younger one is getting is not unreasonable
  • Tell her how the younger one will grow up the same way she has and that then he will also do things that she is doing now, like going to school, playing on her own, watching T.V. The aim is to reassure her that the present situation that threatens her so much will change in some time and both the kids will then get equal attention and treatment
  • Never burden her with ‘being the elder one’. Do not expect her to be the more responsible one, more sensible one, and more sacrificing one. Show her that your expectations from her will depend on her age and not on her order in the family.
  • Do not ridicule the younger one to over-assure your daughter, like “he is so demanding, oh god! You are so nice!”. This may backfire and make her more angry on the younger child for troubling her parents.
  • Show her graphically how your love has multiplied after the second child has come. Make cut outs of hearts and show how you had 1 love when only she was there, and 2 since the time the younger one has come. You can make a collage of two photos- one in which she is there with both parents (near this photo stick 2 hearts) and another in which all 4 of you are there (near this one stick 4 hearts). Place this collage at her eye level on a wall/ almirah where she can see it everyday. The aim is to reassure her that your love has multiplied and didn’t get divided.
  • When you see a problem-behaviour, try to give an assuring interpretation to her. Like if you see her crying for her meals when you are feeding the younger one, you can say something like this, “I know this upsets you a great deal when you see that your demands are not fulfilled immediately as we also have to attend to your brother’s needs now. May be it’s your way of telling us that we are not paying full attention to you. Let’s count till 10 and then mummy will come.” This will not only reassure her that you understand her feelings instead of dismissing them, but also teach her the correct behaviour (i.e. not wanting immediate gratifications, and waiting for turn). Thus you taught her the right behaviour without sounding like a teacher of do’s and don’ts

 hope it helps!


aanchal 2010-06-21 14:40:19


dear pavithra..hey dont feel sad when your daughter resorts to using tricks of blackmailing you!! dont take it personally, as she doesnt mean it..she is just using it to get your attention. she is also using it to let you know how it feels when someone dear is not at home (just the way she feels when u r at office) do you manage yr office hours? do u leave her at creche? or you have a fulltime maid at home to take care of her? this will help me understand situation better.

children do feel bad when mothers are not around..but when the job is mandatory, you need to ignore the guilt it brings along..check out this discussion


sri73 2010-06-21 16:54:09


hi aanchal..i went thru a couple of your posts and was really impressed with your insights ..

we have a case of sibling rivalry at home too...i have a 7 week old newborn and the elder is 3.5 yrs old...she is facing another new environment ...SCHOOL..she is currently in LKG.

she is very affectionate towards the child but vents her frustration at me...i am a stay at home mum...gave her all my time that has reduced ... maybe become NIL..

she pinches me ...does all sorts of mischief ... her father returns home tired from office and she sets off on her tantrums and get beaten up almost every day..

i know my daugther is going thru a difficult period i want to help her...tell me how


Pavith 2010-06-21 17:14:31


 Thank you very much aanchal. She is taken care by my parents. But again there she is behaving in the same way and very demanding. If she is asking for something and if my parents dont do that or get that for her,  she is again calling me and asking me to come home. If I am around and she is not getting things done, in that case she is asking for my parents. These kids are very smart and taking advantages of the situation. Iam planning to quit my job for the sake of my lil girl. Is that the correct decision? or shall I leave her in any day cares for some days or till thee is some change in her attitude. Iam really confused.. anyway going to job is again for the sake of children and when they take advantage of such situation, what has to be done? 


Really worried on her development and growth and expecting your replies...



aanchal 2010-06-22 15:00:38


dear sri73, i can understand how difficult it must be for your daughter these school, new sibling, new schedule of mother..everything familiar has been lost in a short span..her fussiness is nothing but a way of getting your attention(remember, she sees you picking up the newborn the moment he/she cries..she expects to be picked up and soothed similarly)..she is angry at her parents for wanting another child..its a good thing she is expressing her anger. let her vent out. coach her how to express anger without hitting or not expect a small girl to suppress her feelings. suppressed emotions and thoughts lead to psychological trouble later. what she is doing now is not a psychological problem as yet, but if not handled properly (and that means no hitting) it may lead to problems later. i have suggested few things to mirra..i would suggest similar things to you too.

take care..and keep us posted..will try to help as much as possible.


aanchal 2010-06-22 15:10:43


dear pavith..i feel there is something thats bothering your daughter..will it do any good to sit with her in privacy and have a one-to-one talk? remember, tantrum is not a problem in is a manifestation of an internal conflict..try to find out what is troubling her..bad experience at school? sarcastic play-mates? dismissive grandparents? poor eating habits? some kind of insecurity? keep in mind that her conflict may not be brought about by a real situation. kids' imagination is very strong and they tend to believe in many things that dont exist (like santa clause, tooth fairy) if she complains of something, do not go about explaining how irrational her perception is. just listen and nod. thats all a kid wants most of the times.

your anxiety about the situation may be worsening it further. are you feeling guilty of burdening yr parents with a fussy kid? talk to them also about it. do not label yr daughter like 'fussy, stubborn, adament' have a tendency to living upto the prophecy of not talk about all this when she is around..keep your cool and she will calm down too.


dimp 2010-06-23 12:11:06


hi aanchal,


i apreciate u for ur services to worried parents in dealing with there problem. keep up the good work.

my daughter is 4.7 years old . since 1 week she is going to school.

she is going to school but , i dont see her very happly going to school. iam a working mom.

She want to be with the old friends in her class, stll the sections are not made if she is put in another section where she dont find her old freiends she is not happy .

so in the after she is put in different class. she say s i dont want to sit in another class etc.

Mostly i try tio talk to teacher for any problem. but i feel how can i ask all such things ..things like asking teacher t to force her to eat when she doent finiah her box etc.

need ur valuable advice.










aanchal 2010-06-23 14:03:47


dear deepa, unfamiliar faces unnerve kids, but meeting new people helps them form new bonds as well. talk to her what exactly is the problem- is it loss of old friend or conflict with a new classmate? approach of handling the situation will depend on this. also convey to her teacher what she is going through, but then leave the decision on the teacher. too much interference may annoy the teacher. schools have reopened after a long summer break and most of the kids find it difficult to readjust to new classmates and new teachers. give her some more time to place herself and adjust.


Mirra 2010-07-02 01:52:01


dear aanchal,

thanks a lot.  I read your mail  again n aganin. I shall try out all your inputs.

My worry is like she has already undergone the stress.. as we failed to deal her properly at the correct time... after when  my younger one is grown n now goes to PRE_KG  am realizing the fact that adhya my daughter is in very bad state of behaviour..

she has become very stubborn, hits her brother for anything n everything, she hits me too..., she has totally lost the habit of listening to me... right from morning  getting her ready tille she comes back n has lunch she apposes  me.. finally  I loose my temper...

I need to do some reverse kind of work to bring her back to normal.. how to stop her from doing all this.. though my younger one grown up n is on his own I cannot leave him somewhere n give her full attention...

also I think there is another factor which I think is bothering her...   when she was in pre-kg I used to drop her n pick her up... and there use to be  lot of coversation between me n her during travel time... when she joined LKG I put her in van .. after few days she refused to go in van and I resumed to drop n pick her up..

Now her brother goes to PRE_KG..  I drop them to-gather  n pick  my daughter first then go to my sons school to pick him up .. now she  is not getting exclusive attention as what she used to get after coming from school...she gets irritated


now that its been two and half years she has already formulated certain views..

how to reassure her... she has lost trust..


help me...







sarimom 2010-07-02 08:12:34


hi anchal,

You replies are very informative and already got few pointers for my childs issue.

My son is 5 years old. And he is going to the same school from past 2 years. He is a smart kid, who loves to talk and gather knowledge of everything around him. This is causing trouble for him to do things which need concentration or need to sit at one place and do. To be specific, doing maths. When i take up his studies at home, he finishes it english, hindi maths in just 20-25 min and gets up.

But at school, he really has hard time concentrating on maths. He will hardly due 2-3 probelmes in a weeks time. His teacher says he has problem in concentrating not only maths, but in doing simple things also. Since he si so curious about things that, half way through he forgets wht he was supposed to do. Simple example.

Teacher: neel did you wash your hand before lunch. wash your hand and get your lunch box:

neel : washes his hands. and before picking up his lunch, he sees one book nearby and he will start reading it.

treaher: neel

neel:yes comming and again tunns to window and busy looking out and talking about the weather or trafic or something.

In maths class, he will scribble on sheets or start disturbing kids around him.

The teachers feed back is he is very bright, full of energy and curious child. He listens to them. But likes to tease kids around them and finds joy when they get irritated.

He cannot withstand few kids in the class and still all of them(the naughty gang) want to be together and fighting.

I really don't know,wht to say. I talked to him today morning and told him, if you continue disturbing other kids in the class and not do your maths. I am going to ask your teacher to sit down on the floor in one corner. So he says do't do that i will not trouble others.

But do you think its ok to make his sit like that down from other kids as punishment. Or how should i tell him not to trouble others and enjoy on that.

Second how to improve his concetration and let him finish the work properly.

Thanks saritha



aanchal 2010-07-02 15:16:32


mirra, u had 24 hours for one kid, long back. now, u have 2 kids, but still only 24 hours. that will not mean 12 for each.instead that will mean 24 for both. your daughter needs to get hold of this very idea..she needs to know that your attention is not suggestive of your underlying love. coach her how attention is different from love. this should soothe her a lot.

easier said than done, eh!! my personal opinion is that kids' idea of spending time together is different from ours. we feel rejuvinated after having a one-to-one personal talk. kids who are feeling ignored may not feel reconnected and rejuvinated after a hearty talk. they feel fresh after they have enjoyed thoroughly. so may be with your daughter, u can do some craft work together. whats your kids' siesta pattern? do they sleep in the afternoons? do they sleep at the same time? try if they can sleep at different times, then u can spend time with each when the other one is sleeping. its a good way of spending time with both without any disturbance. i know it takes a toll on the mother as she doesnt get any free time for herself, but since your daughter is in dire need of some personal time of yours, u can adopt this for a couple of weeks.

one more thing, involve your husband more into the loop. when fathers spend more time with the elder one, the mother gets more time for the younger one and herself. if yr husband has tight work schedule, then hire a help who can assist you under your supervision.

do not feel bad about 'the lost time'..these things happen with kids..we learn to do better from our experience with them. same applies with me. after having studied child psychology for years, i found my best teacher in my kid!! i learnt so much from him. he also has a share of his problems. that doesnt make me a bad therapist and a mother. so dont feel guilty about not looking at the problem any earlier. the best thing is that u r looking at it now. many mothers would have chosen to go ahead without bothering to get into all this.


aanchal 2010-07-02 16:21:17


dear saritha, you mentioned two problems: poor concentration and teasing others. from your description it looks like your son is showing his defiance/ non-compliance through these. how is he at home? does he listen in general?

another thing, u shouldnt tell your child that if he doesnt listen to u, u will complain to his gives him an idea that you have some say  in school matters. he may actually get misguided into thinking that when teachers punish/scold him, they have been instructed by u. he may also start believing that u may get him out of a situation if u want to. to avoid these confusions from developing, its best not to show that u can influence the teachers in any way, unless the situation is grave and parents intervention is required.


 Former member 2010-07-02 17:25:38


Hi Aanchal,

Even i have 2 kids, aged 5 and 3yrs. My problem is with my elder son, who finds it difficult sleeping without me. Being the first born i made the mistake of pampering him a bit too much, hence he still clings on to me for comfort. My daughter on the other hand has no such issues but seeing her brother clinging to me, she wants to follow suit.

I have tried and made sure he sleeps by himself but he wakes up in the middle of the night and silently crawls in the bed next to me,since i am too sleepy to make him go back to his bed he continues to sleep next to me and this pattern continues for most of the nights. I just don't know how to make him sleep by himself  at night. please suggest something..Must add here that every day he promises to sleep by himself but somehow he is not able to keep his promise.

looking forward to ur reply.thanks.






aanchal 2010-07-02 19:01:07


dear sahiba, i will ask 2 questions here- does your younger one sleep with u while the elder one sleeps in his room? and would you have let your elder one sleep in his room if he were your only child?


sarimom 2010-07-03 06:38:05


Thank you anchal for you promt reply. At home and in general at school or anywhere, if anybody is saying he will listen to them.

His teasing habit is there everywhere though. I have made him understand so many times that when somebody is getting irritated, don't trouble them more. But the more people get annoyed, the more more fun he finds in it. To one of his schoolmates i told to ignore my son, if he is teasing her. Then she did the same and he has stopped teasing her.

About concentration, i think he is always in a hurry or thinking about telling me something about wht has happened or wht is going to happen, and he forgets to do the thing he is doing at that time.

Thank you for making me realize that, i should not let him know that i have say in his school matters.



gachu 2010-12-01 14:47:07


hi anchal

my kid is just 4 years old girl and she is in lkg and the school have lots of oral work and the prob is she know everything but she never speak that which ask her by her teacher... and she is not eat properly ,,like if i send jamchapatishe will eat if i gave her chapati with any veg then she will eat hlf or 1/4 . please tell wht ido





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