To adults, being a child can seem very carefree. Some of us long for the days where all we had to worry about was who we were going to play with at recess. Unfortunately, children can experience stress. Things like school, friends and growing up can put stressors on our kids. We need to know how to best help them and equip them for the future. Although you can’t protect your kids from stress completely (it’s not a good idea anyway), you can help them understand the healthiest ways to handle it and resolve stressors which may come their way.
Here are some tips on how to help your kids cope with stress in their daily lives:
Listen to Your Child
Don’t ever think that just because you are the adult, you’ve got all the answers. You don’t know the inside of your child’s head and you won’t know how to help if you don’t take the time to find out. Ask your child what is wrong and try to understand (from their point of view) what the stressor actually is. Don’t rush these conversations – they will make your child feel respected, valued and important.
Stress can often be portrayed and perceived in a negative light, but it is not always a bad thing. There is such thing as positive stress. Try to shift your child’s perception from a “stress hurts” to “stress helps” mindset. Sometimes stress can be just the kickstart you need to be productive! Stress represents a challenge that should be overcome and learned from. If you change the stigma around stress, your child will benefit greatly in the future.
Practice Problem Solving
Stress is pointless if you just let it overcome you and don’t do anything about it. Brainstorm potential solutions to the stressor with your child and work together to think about how the issue or issues could be resolved to reduce negative stress.
Teach Your Child Calming Strategies
When children experience stress, one of the first things they need to do is calm down. Addressing a stressor while your child is hysterical or worked up is not productive.
Try these effective calming strategies:
- Have your child take deep breaths. This is a tried-and-true solution. Tell them to breathe in through their nose and out through their mouth with measured breaths. This will prevent hyperventilation and help them to regain composure.
- Tell them to close their eyes and imagine being in their favorite place. Tell them to stay there for a few minutes, imagining things which make them happy.
- Ask them to pick a number or count something in their head. Even spelling a word can sometimes help. Focusing their attention on something simple that they know how to do will make them feel like they are back in control.
Be There & be Patient
Just being there may be all your child needs. Sometimes they don’t need solutions, they don’t want to talk about it and they don’t want to focus on problem solving. Sometimes they just need someone who loves them to sit next to them and hold their hand (emotionally or physically). Be patient with your child. As a parent, it can be very tempting to just swoop in and solve every minor issue your children have. This is not healthy or helpful for your child! Wait for them to be ready to open up to you and then fix it together. Work as a team to resolves stress alongside your child. You will both reap the benefits from this process.