By Inquiry Charter Healthy Owl Times reporters | It is common for children to experience stress, according to kidshealth.org.
A few causes of stress are increased social media use and conflicts with friends and members, according to Dr. Pierre Chanoine. He is a pediatrician who helps children with medical needs and social and emotional issues.
He recently met with the fifth-grade Healthy Owl Times staff to discuss how he helps children cope when they are facing problems with stress. The following questions and answers are from the interview and have been shortened and edited.
Question: How can kids deal with stress?
Dr. Chanoine: First of all, feeling stress is perfectly normal. You need to start by figuring out what your support system is. You’re dealing with a lot of different things—the pandemic, transitioning back to school. Rely on the people in your community to make sure you have the support that you need. Different people have different types and amounts of stress. Figure out what makes you feel better about your day. Find joy in each day.
Question: What are some common emotional and social problems you see?
Dr. Chanoine: We often see kids facing problems with friends. With relationships, we need to figure out how to cooperate and deal with issues that have to be resolved. Relationships with parents and siblings are another area where problems occur. It can be important to figure out the things that keep you in a comfortable place in your family. Kids also need to learn how to navigate social media in the best and safest way.
Question: What causes these issues?
Dr. Chanoine: Figuring out what the rules are and how to go about doing these things. Stress and anxiety are on a continuum. Issues tend to be around control—everyone is trying to figure out how to navigate what’s the right thing/right approach. We need take a step back and understand what’s going on.
Question: How do you help your patients who are facing social and emotional problems?
Dr. Chanoine: First I listen. I want to know what are the different components? What are the issues Maybe just by talking they present a solution. Speak with a therapist. A lot of times when I see children feeling stress, I ask them whether they are getting enough sleep. Sleep tends to be a big issue. To get better sleep, keep a regular schedule you follow.
Question: What kind of advice can you offer to kids who are dealing with stress?
Dr. Chanoine: The biggest thing is to find people you trust. Someone you can talk through it with. The biggest one for most people is family, but that is not always the case. Maybe your doctor? First, figure out who are the people you trust and feel comfortable with. Stress is normal and we all experience it. You’re not the only person who’s ever gone through this. Peers, friends, everyone goes through it.
Question: If I’m having problems with a friendship, what do you suggest I do?
Dr. Chanoine: What are you comfortable with? Talk to the person? Sometimes you need help rehearsing what you’re going to say. Rehearse with other friends, a trusted teacher, parents, and others. Practice first and then go talk to your friend about it. Most things are misunderstandings.
Question: If I’m having problems with a family member, what should I do?
Dr. Chanoine: With a family problem we need more detail. If your problem is with a sibling, go to a parent. If you’re dealing with a parent, you need to find an adult you trust that you can talk to. That could be the other parent or a trusted teacher or doctor, for example. A therapist can also help you figure it out and help you. A good idea is to find resources in or outside the family.