Helping Kids Cope with Stress

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As parents know, children also deal with a great deal of stress. Just as adults deal with stress from various sources (jobs, family members, finances, etc.), kids feel the same pressures from school, parents, activities, and other responsibilities. Helping your child learn to cope with stress is an important part of their development.  
 

Co-parents should watch for signs of stress in their children 

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way, but the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends some common changes you and your co-parent can look out for:  
  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children. 
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (i.e. toileting accidents or bedwetting). 
  • ​Excessive worry or sadness. 
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits. 
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens. 
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school. 
  • Difficulties with attention and concentration. 
  • ​Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past. 
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain. 
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. 
     

Just like anything else in co-parenting, consistency is key 

If you and your co-parent identify any of these stress indicators, it’s important to document and discuss them with each other. Once you have communicated about the issues, you should form a plan of action together. There are several ways you and your co-parent can help your child cope with stress, based on their age.  
 
Young children: Calming strategies are helpful to younger kids. Teaching your child to take a deep breath, imagine their favorite place, or count to a designated number can help them relieve stress. 
 
Pre-teens: Finding healthy distractions or outlets can benefit older children. Thinking of ways to make them laugh, encouraging them to help others, or playing a game with them might help take their mind off negative feelings. 
 
Teens: Help them find ways to organize and simplify their schedule. It’s important to talk to your teen about their routines and how they can potentially cut down on one or two activities a week. Even if those activities aren’t necessarily the cause of your teens’ anxiety, simplifying their schedule will give them more down time to destress.  
 


No matter how old your child is, modeling healthy coping strategies is crucial 

Children model their parents’ behaviors, so it’s important for you and your co-parent to manage stress in a healthy way. The same goes for co-parenting related stress. If communicating with each other is a significant source of stress, you might want to consider using TalkingParents. Features such as the Shared Calendar and Info Library can help make your co-parenting journey easier.  

TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.

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