Ask For Backup When You Need It
Feel overwhelmed at times? Dont be afraid to ask your family or your spouse for help. Trying to be supermom or superdad is a recipe for stress, and your kids will benefit from your reaching out.
Youll make better decisions, youll be a better listener, and youll enjoy interacting more with your children, says Dr. Pomeranets. Youll be less tempted to yell and more likely to model proper behavior for them.
Find yourself feeling excessively and continuously worried? Talk to your healthcare provider, she says.
Be Clear And Reasonable About What You Expect
Maybe youve been working with your child on spelling. Your child may feel worried, thinking you only want perfect scores on spelling tests. Tell your child what you actually expect. Or maybe you expect a clean bedroom and dont want to have to remind your child to take care of it. But is this big task realistic? Most kids who learn and think differently will benefit from having a big task broken down into several small ones. Theyll also find reminders helpful. And some kids want company while they do chores.
Go For A Mindful Walk
This can be a great group or family activity. Take a walk either in the house, in the school, or your neighborhood, and focus on your senses. Pay attention to what you see, hear, or smell. Ask about what people discovered. Did they see something they never saw before? Or hear something unusual? Did anyone notice things they hadn’t noticed before?
Here’s an article I wrote with more information on taking a mindful walk.
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Let Your Child Be In Control
Children and even adults feel in control if they sense there is someone who understands them.
Sometimes, your child may find this sense of comfort apart from you, with a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or another trusted adult. While it may be difficult, Esposito says parents should allow their child to foster that relationship so that they have a go-to person and a sense of belonging.
The best thing any child can have growing up and to be able to manage themselves and their stress is that they identify and belong to a family and a team, Esposito says.
That sense of belonging can also come from a group of friends. Older children and adolescents need time to hang out with people who let them be themselves, where they can flat-out laugh and let loose. Such times are helpful for a child to deal with the stress on their own, Esposito says.
Do Some Detective Work
Kids who learn and think differently might not even be aware that theyre feeling stress. You can help by asking some simple, low-key questions. Drawing together is a good way to get conversation flowing. Mention youve noticed something has been bothering your child. Help put a name to what it might be. Are you feeling worried about reading out loud in Ms. Smiths class? Simply talking about feelings can be a relief.
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The Importance Of Teaching Kids To Manage Stress
Stress is a fact of life. As adults, we all experience stressful situations, and all have our own ways of managing stress. While there is no way to stress, the techniques and strategies we use to manage our stress levels can have a significant impact on our emotional and physical well-being.
Children also experience stress. Many kids also have anxiety issues, and some may even be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Left to their own devices, children will develop their own coping mechanisms for dealing with their stress and anxiety – many of which will not be particularly effective or healthy.
As parents, it is vital to be aware of stress levels in our children at every age and to help teach them effective ways of managing stress and anxiety. These skills will serve them well throughout their entire lives.
Stress Busting Activities For Young Children
Stress is often thought of as a grown-up condition, but children can also experience stress. Stress in children can result from school, homework, friends, family disruptions, changes in routines, and many other situations.
Stress can be observed as an obvious physical reaction such as crying or a headache, or it can be an emotional or behavioral reaction such as worrying or shyness. Reactions to stress can vary with the childs age and stage of development.If early childhood practitioners can identify stress in young children, they can intervene with stress-relief strategies before little pressures turn into big problems. There are several strategies children can be taught to help them cope with stress.
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Utilize A Mood Booster
Work with your kids on making a list of all the things they like to do when they’re happysuch as dancing, singing, kicking a ball, or telling jokes. Those are their mood boosters.
Then, when they’re feeling down, encourage them to do something on their mood booster list. Even if they don’t feel like doing it at first, doing something fun can help them feel better.
Coping Skills To Help Kids Deal With Stress
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Stress is part of everyones life. As an adult, you have experienced stress at one time or another. But did you know that kids experience stress too? Kids stress about school work, family, friendships or the future. Sometimes kids get stressed with adult worries, like the health of family members and paying the bills.
Certain times of the year are more stressful than others. When we head back to school, everyone gets more stressed and has a harder time dealing with feelings in a healthy way.
But theres good news! Just as you can teach a child to brush their teeth or tie their shoes, dealing with stress is something that can be taught. Teaching kids coping skills to help with stressful situations now is wonderful because its more likely they will become an adult with good coping skills for dealing with tough situations.
Think of coping skills as a collection of strategies to help deal with stress. In my work with children and adolescents, Ive identified four main categories of coping skills: calming skills, skills designed to distract, skills that get kids moving, and skills to help kids learn more about their stressors.
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Take A Break From It All
When did you last truly connect with your partner? Plan to get away from your everyday routine.
Make time to do things on your own, as a couple, says Ms. Zufan. A date night once a month can help to keep your marriage strong and alleviate stress.
Plan a getaway or vacation for your family, too. I schedule time off when my kids have school breaks, so we can enjoy our time together, says Dr. Pomeranets.
What Parents Can Do About Child Stress
It’s worth talking to your child about what they may be feeling, even though they may not be able to articulate it in “grown-up” terms. Stick to questions about what they might be worried about or things that might not be making them feel good. Generally, younger children do not fully understand the concept of words such as stress and anxiety.
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Turning It Down: Explaining The Physical Effects Of Stress And How To Calm Them
First, reassure your child that its common to feel stress. Stress is a natural part of everyones life, and a normal fight- flight-freeze response that gets triggered inside the body when we feel stress. In this response, the body releases hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and readies your muscles to respond.
One way your child can help turn down this natural stress response is by taking slow deep breaths to feel calmer. Other breathing exercises can also help.
Follow along with Stresslr, a friendly robot, with your child for a fun way to learn about stress:
How Can Parents Teach Their Children Coping Strategies For Stress
You can empower them to handle stressful situations. Remember to tailor the information you present to your children based on their developmental level and their understanding of potential stress-inducing events.
Refrain from bombarding them with unnecessary information which could confuse them or even cause more stress. Basic coping strategies might include:
- Diverse responses to outside sources of stress. If a child is being taunted at school for example, offer them options such as walking away, asking an adult for help or telling the bully to stop.
- Relaxation techniques such as taking 3 deep breaths, counting down from 10, or going outside to dance, run or move around.
- Expression of stressful feelings through talking, art or music.You can simply provide your children with drawing supplies and sit with them and talk while they draw.
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Lets Start From A Childs Perspective What Causes Stress For Children
Many parents easily recognize the sources of stress in their own lives. But we often dont realize that children have very differentand sometimes unexpectedsources of their own.
- Outside sources such as expectations of families and friends can leave a child feeling overwhelmed and filled with anxiety. Peer pressure, bullying or harassment is common in school but not something children often talk about with parents.
- Over-packed schedules at school, in sports or via other extracurricular activities can fill children with feelings of exhaustion and helpless, and does not allow them enough time to relax and unwind. Many children are also not getting enough sleep, which can cause both physical and emotional stress.
- Sometimes the biggest stressor for children is self-imposed pressure. It is easy for children to feel like they are not good enough, especially in school, sports or other extracurricular activities.
- World news can also be a source of stress for children. Violent or disturbing images seen on television or discussions of terrorism, wars, and natural disasters may result in children feeling scared and fearful.
- Any major change in a childs life can be extremely stressful, such as relocating, divorce or death of a loved one.
Break Down The Homework
A whole page of word problems or a big packet of math can be overwhelming, particularly for kids with attention issues. Breaking the problems down into chunks groups of three, for example can make the task more manageable. Promise fun breaks in between. Your child can do a few problems and then FaceTime with a friend or take a pet out to play. Always praise your child for each set of problems or worksheet completed.
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Some Of The Typical Signs And Symptoms Of Stress In Children
Just as childrens reactions are each different, so are their coping strategies. Children can cope through tears or tantrums or by retreating from unpleasant situations. They could be masterful at considering options, finding compromise, or finding substitute comfort. Usually a childs thinking is not developed fully enough to think of options or consider the implications of possible actions. Here are developmentally normal responses to stress. It is important to note that children who live in supportive environments often develop a range of coping strategies and become more resilient.
Typically, preschoolers lack self-control, have a limited understanding of time, act independently, are curious, may wet the bed, have changes in eating habits, have difficulty with sleep or speech, and cannot always tell adults how they are feeling.
Preschoolers under stress each react differently. Some behaviors may include irritability, anxiety, uncontrollable crying, trembling with fright, and eating or sleeping problems. Toddlers may regress to infant behaviors, feel angry and not understand their feelings, fear being alone or without their parent or caregiver, withdraw, bite, or be sensitive to sudden or loud noises. Feelings of sadness or anger may build inside of them. They may become angry or aggressive, have nightmares, or be accident prone.
Preteens and Adolescents
In Order To Take Care Of Your Children You Must Take Care Of Yourself So It Is Important To Be Aware Of Your Stress Level And Work To Manage It So Are Stress Triggers For Children Similar To Those For Adults
The answer is yes. The 6 leading causes of stress in adults are similar with what causes stress in children
- Strive for excellence not perfection
- Participate in support groups or have a support network
- Lose yourself in a hobby!
- Make sure you do things that give you pleasure and provide peace and relaxation
- Cut down your to-do list
- Take control of your environment
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Ways To Handle Kids Stuck At Home
With the school year coming to an end and many camps being canceled due to COVID-19, parents are faced with new issues in keeping their children active and on track at home.
Here are some ways that families can think about their childrens needs while encouraging growth and connection during this pandemic:
Need Social Support Reach Out Even If Its Just A Phone Call To A Parenting Helpline
This should surprise no one, but it needs to be said: Parenting is a lot easier when youve got friends, family, or neighbors on your side.
Indeed, as Ive explained opens in a new windowelsewhere, human parents have always needed helpers. People who offer childcare help, emotional support, and economic aid.
So if you find yourself feeling isolated and overwhelmed, know that it isnt a personal failing. You arent supposed to be isolated. You arent supposed to be overwhelmed. You are supposed to be part of a supportive social network.
Heck, even monkey parents can count on the support of their friends and allies.
But what can you do if dont live near friends and relatives? Or lack people in your life who can provide you with the support you really need?
There are many options: Local parenting cooperatives. Online parenting communities and support groups. Trained therapists.
Enrolling in a parenting class can be helpful too. Studies indicate that parenting classes can reduce your feelings of anger, guilt, and stress particularly if your child has difficult behavior problems . But keep in mind: these effects usually fade after the classes end suggesting that its the ongoing social connections that matter.
Not sure where to find these resources? Try your family physician, as well as parenting helplines. For example, if you live in the United States, you can contact the opens in a new windowNational Parenting Helpline, operated by Parents Anonymous.
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If Stress Continues: Seeking Help
If youre still feeling very stressed every day, it might help to talk to a health professional. You could start by seeing your GP, who can help you make a plan for managing stress. This might include referring you to another health professional for some specialist support.
Stress is often the result of trouble with time management or other issues. It can help to work with a professional on identifying the issues and coming up with solutions.
You can find more stress management techniques in our activity guides on breathing, muscle relaxation and mindfulness. You can also search online for stress management and relaxation apps, books, YouTube videos and so on.
Ways To Prevent Holiday Stress For Your Children
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire
The holidays can be hectic and tense. Between buying presents , holiday events , entertaining , traveling, and family gatherings , what should theoretically be fun has a way of becoming stressful. It can be stressful for kids, too.
Okay, they arent driving long distances, dealing with office parties, or managing a credit card bill. But it is stressful nonetheless. Routines are off, there are so many expectations, and the ambient stress has a way of affecting children too.
Here are seven ways to prevent and reduce holiday stress for children this season.
1. Manage your own stress. Not only are you setting an example, theres just no way to stop your children from sensing your stress and being affected by it. Its kind of like the safety message we hear every time we get on an airplane: if you are flying with a child and the oxygen masks drop, you should put yours on first and then put on the childs. Youre no good to anyone if you cant function. Try to be self-aware. Set aside time for yourself. Create code words that your partner and friends can use to let you know when you are starting to act like a snippy, crazy person. Practice self-care. Get enough sleep. Speaking of sleep
Thats a perspective we all need and the perspective that could save all of us a lot of stress.
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List The Pros And Cons
When kids are struggling to make a decision, like whether to play the flute or the violin, help them create a pros and cons list. Write down the positives and negatives about each option and help them review the list. Seeing things on paper may help them make a more informed decision about what they want to do.
Encourage your kids to make a list of pros and cons every time they are faced with challenging decisions. Learning to weigh their options will serve them wellespecially if they are faced with moral decisions or difficult choices in the future.
Use Insights From Psychology To Help Your Future Self
In the comic novels of P. G. Wodehouse, manservant Jeeves always knows what people will need even before they do. You can take steps to become your own Jeeves by applying the lessons of modern psychology.
How are you going to feel in a future situation? Experiments indicate that people are opens in a new windowpretty bad at anticipating their future discomforts. When were feeling sated, we have trouble grasping how hungry well get later so we dont plan accordingly. When were feeling rested, we discount how terrible well feel if we dont get enough sleep.
We think were good at predicting these things, but when researchers compare our predictions to real outcomes, its clear that we underestimate our future needs.
So analyze what goes wrong, and make a deliberate, conscious effort to help out your future self. Are the kids going to fight over that particular game? Then dont bring it with you. Is that difficult relative going to stress you out? Decide ahead of time what you will do about it. Will the noise make you crazy? Bring ear plugs.
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