Nowadays, more and more often we can hear about the harmful effects of stress on human health. The fight against this invisible perpetrator of tension begins on the day of birth and accompanies us throughout our lives. It is most visible when the child starts learning. Suddenly, he faces new tasks, he is increasingly subjected to an assessment of his own actions, new social relationships appear in which the child wants to be seen in a positive light. All this can cause a strong emotional tension. How children learn to minimize the effects of stress affects their entire lives. The purpose of this text is to show parents what stress is and how to help a child relieve tension caused by various situations.


In general, stress means an adaptive relationship between human capabilities and the demands of the environment. The above definition shows that the environment is full of various stressors affecting individuals.

In psychology, three forms of stress response are distinguished: eustress, distress, and neustress. The first form, or eustress, turns out to be mobilizing. What does this mean in practice? Tension caused by various stimuli – e.g. stress before the test provokes the mobilization of the body to reduce this tension. Ultimately, in our example, it forces us to learn. However, when the state of tension persists for a very long time and exceeds the individual threshold of stress resistance, we will talk about the adverse effects of distress. It appears when a student has several tests at one time, and a lot of other duties arising from extra-curricular activities. It is highly probable that he will feel tension causing slow exhaustion of the body’s mobilization capacity. How can it manifest itself? First of all, the person is becoming more and more nervous, more and more often he is unable to cope with the current situation, there are problems with concentration, and there is also a decrease in motivation. In extreme situations, if you do not try to reduce the intensity of stress, you may develop neurotic or mood disorders.


As mentioned in the introduction, the fact, how a child learns to cope with stress will have a huge impact on its later functioning. A good example would be people who had the so-called “too high bar” – they can develop a tendency to avoid stress responses. In adult life, they can also avoid difficult situations for fear of failure. In extreme cases, anxiety disorders may develop, e.g. social phobia.

It is therefore worth considering whether our children have too many responsibilities. Sometimes, they want to attend as many classes as possible, without realizing that it will be difficult to cope with the excess of duties. What can a parent do in such a situation? First of all, talk to your child and realize that if he feels that he can’t cope with all the activities, he can give up at any time. Children are often ashamed to admit to their parents that they will not cope with the challenge because they want to impress them. An important element in raising children is the right way to motivate to act. Choosing words on the principle of “you have to manage”, “you are not stupid than others”, “do it for parents” etc. is inappropriate and causes the child to feel guilty at the time of failure.

To reduce tension when your child faces a difficult challenge, explain to him that fear is normal. You can give examples of situations in which you feel tension. Remember to explain to your child that if he fails, nothing will really happen! Let them draw conclusions in this situation and treat it as a lesson for the future.

In this way, we protect the child against reduced well-being and give the opportunity to self-assess in a rational way, without the so-called cognitive distortions caused by a specific situation.


In everyday life, it is worth introducing various forms of stress relief from an early age. A helpful idea might be to offer your child a common time to spend on rest from their daily duties. It is worth considering going out to the pool, relaxing training, playing outside, breathing exercises etc. In fact, any method that allows you to break away from the daily routine will have a mutual, positive aspect. Both the parent and child then have the opportunity to relax and also strengthen their mutual emotional bond.



Reykowski J., Funkcjonowanie osobowości w warunkach stresu psychologicznego, PWN, Warszawa 1966.

Wrześniewski K., Psychologiczne uwarunkowania powstawania i rozwoju chorób somatycznych [w:] Strelau J., (red.), Psychologia. Podręcznik akademicki, t. 3, GWP, Gdańsk 2005.