One of my roles as a College Pastor is to support students when they’re struggling in life. There are many reasons why students struggle and it’s not always the result of something big happening. Sometimes it can be the combination of a lot of little things causing them to feel overwhelmed.
A change in your child’s behaviour can be an indicator that they are struggling with something.
If your child has become preoccupied, secretive or more emotional, if their eating or sleeping patterns have changed, if they used to be talkative and outgoing but have become reserved or withdrawn or if they were once placid and have become outspoken and boisterous, it’s worth having a conversation to check if they are ok.
Unfortunately, children don’t always tell their parents when they’re struggling because they don’t want them to worry. A good way to support them emotionally is to remind them you are always there for them no matter what. If they decide to open up to you it’s important that you show them empathy, remain calm and avoid lecturing, instead offering to help them work through some possible solutions.
It is possible for them to increase their emotional resilience by practising good self-care, so encourage them to speak positively to themselves, find some time for fun and fuel their bodies with a well-balanced diet, plenty of sleep and regular exercise. Although simple, these things can improve their ability to cope with the stress and pressures of life.
Most importantly don’t forget to include God. It never ceases to amaze me the way God has helped me when I’ve handed my problems over to him. Somehow he manages to give me peace in the midst of my chaos or remove the obstacles that I can’t seem to get over.
Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt in my life are to never underestimate the power of God because he has the ability to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). It may take a while but the truth will always come out in the end so be patient. Hand your cares over to God because he cares for you and your child (1 Peter 5:7). He is right there with us in the middle of a storm and like a storm, the thing your child is going through will eventually pass.
Donna Newell, College Pastor