Tackling Kid’s Stress and Building Resiliency


The Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) regularly runs the innovative program Kid’s Have Stress Too! to address some of the unique challenges military children face.

Facilitators teach families that strong, healthy parent and child relationships are key to raising resilient, productive and mentally healthy children.

“Kid’s Have Stress Too! is excellent in providing Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) parents with easy to use tools that help them recognize and identify what children are feeling, and teaching them to name it.  Eventually, the child and parent together discover what they can do about these feelings,” explains Frances Priest, facilitator, deployment support and special projects coordinator, Petawawa MFRC.

The Kids Have Stress Too! solution to overcoming stress is to build children’s emotional health and resiliency to help them concentrate, learn, interact more successfully and deal with stressors they may face in their lives.

Stress is a normal part of everyday life for children and adults. Stress can motivate people and add a positive challenge to life. However, too much stress can be counter-productive and overwhelming.

According to the Kids Have Stress Too! website stress among children is estimated to have increased 45% over the past 30 years. After accidents, suicide is the most frequent cause of death among young people in Canada. Bullying among school-age children is a problem for one-half of boys and one-quarter of girls.

Even the most nurturing home and school environment includes a range of stressors that can both challenge and motivate children. Due to relocation and parental deployment military families face more stress than the average Canadian family.

“The military lifestyle brings with it an irregular pattern of change. Moving to another town or province, going to another school, trying to fit in, making new friends and finding and establishing a new routine are only some of changes kids experience,” said Priest.

Stress-related problems affect student’s performance in school, and many stressors are related to the school environment. Excessive stress can have a dramatic effect on learning and social development. It can interfere with functions such as attention, memory, organization and integration.

“Imagine that on top of new adjustments, one or both of your parents are away for military-related work, exercises, course, or overseas deployments.  There’s the impact of the absence of the deployed parent in their child’s life due to the distance and the frequency of communications which for some children is stressful. That’s why this program is so useful to military families,” said Priest.

The program’s Stop, Look and Feel model builds resiliency in children and families by empowering parents to Stop children before their frustration escalates and notice what their body is telling them, like a belly ache or butterflies in their stomach.

Children are then asked to Look at all the symptoms and talk about what they are feeling. Parents are taught a few simple ways to introduce this to their child, like selecting the face that corresponds to the emotion their child is Feeling.

According to Priest, Kids Have Stress Too! gives children an outlet to be heard and for parents to listen to their stressors so they can help them manage them better – overall, a great program in building resilient children.

Kids Have Stress Too! programs were developed by the Psychology Foundation of Canada (PFC). PFC is a national registered charity dedicated to supporting parents and strengthening families through a number of initiatives, including creating educational resources developing training programs for parents and professionals, and delivering community-based programs through diverse partnerships across Canada.

PFC using evidence-based psychological knowledge and experts in psychology, early childhood development, education and stress. The program provides a comprehensive introduction to key aspects of early childhood and brain development, as well as the crucial role caregivers, and educators play in helping children learn effective stress-management strategies.

For more information on Kids Have Stress Too! please visit their website.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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