How do you get your child to tell you they're getting stressed?

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How do you get your child to tell you that they are getting stressed?

Often the first obvious sign of a child getting stressed is when they are screaming and shouting or they have become totally withdrawn. In order to avoid these incidents you need your child to become more self-aware of when their stress and anxiety levels are rising and have the confidence and communication skills to let you know.

Strategies:

Use a rating scale card to help them become more aware of their emotional arousal. See article on emotional regulation
Identify a quiet area where they can go to when feeling stressed - reinforce message "When I'm feeling upset I can go to my quiet place. If space is limited use a pop up tent to provide safe place. Also useful to take away on visits and holidays
Help the child to express themselves through activities like drawing pictures or writing down things that upset them and placing in a worry box
Reinforce message that it is OK to feel frustrated and angry sometimes but not to scream and shout. Try to model this yourself so they learn from your actions
Note down situations that can be triggers for your child. Consider writing a social story explaining what they should do to remain calm when next in that situation
Actively teach your child self-calming strategies

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You may be interested in the following pages:

Emotional Regulation

Rating Scales

Social Stories

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