Stress Management for Kids
Stress is a major part of everyday life and being able to identify and reduce stress within kids is vital.
Stress and worry are a major part of everyday life for adults, and children are dealing with these types of feelings now more than ever. Today’s fast-paced life that is constantly driven by competitiveness and technology reliance can have subtle and long-lasting side effects on children.
While these issues may seem daunting, there are numerous ways you can help your children deal with stress by identifying signs of stress, help reduce stressors, and teach positive coping strategies to your child.
Signs of Stress
How do I spot signs of stress in my child? Changes in their behavior are the most significant tell-tale signs of stress. These include changes to their appetite, sleep patterns, and increased anger and irritability. Children under stress are also known to neglect their responsibilities, whether as a form of attention-seeking behavior or due to lack of interest. Increased stress can even manifest physically in the form of a child becoming sick or not feeling well more often than normal. Ultimately, stress rears its ugly head in a multitude of ways much like it can for adults and symptoms can range widely depending on the age of your child.
Ways to Reduce Stress
If you suspect your child is suffering from stress-related symptoms, there are several techniques that you, as a parent, can help to reduce your child’s stress or teach them healthy coping methods. A few proven strategies begin with reinforcing and externalizing positive feelings. What does that mean? Essentially, it means to ensure that those common feelings of love, warmth, and support toward your child do not get swept under the rug. Make sure they know how you feel, but also be sure to be a keen listener. Listen to your child’s concerns and acknowledge their feelings, no matter how big or small. Open lines of communication are key. This way, you are more likely to be aware of their wants and can more aptly develop a trust and bond with them. Also, make sure your child has enough downtime to focus on themselves. Overscheduling can be detrimental.
Methods for Kids Coping with Stress on Their Own
When it comes to healthy coping methods and stress management, the key is to help ease your child’s mind or develop a positive distraction. Some of the more mainstream stress-relief methods include:
- physical exercise
- breathing exercises
- tai chi
Other ways to cope with stress could be as simple as getting outside, talking with friends, or starting a journal or doodle notebook. In the end, the biggest takeaway is for children to become self-aware over their stress. As soon as they begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed, they are able to recognize it and begin to navigate those difficult feelings.
Ways Parents can Help
Parents can also help their children with their stress through their own everyday actions. Parents should emphasize modeling healthy coping skills. After all, children often learn from observing those in their own lives. Along this same vein, it is key for children to understand that the ideas and influences they pick up from media and pop culture may not always be the healthiest. Promoting a healthy media literacy with a child can ultimately benefit their self-esteem and combat any negative feelings that might arise from being unable to fit into molds set by today’s media standards.
If the symptoms of stress persist, it might become beneficial for parents to seek professional help. In the case of seeking counseling or therapy, co-parents should come to a mutual understanding on their child’s mental healthcare and the terms of the custody agreement should be considered.