How can you helo your child cope with stress?
Stress is an inevitable part of daily life. We all experience it, children and adults, alike. Granted, the stresses our kids face are quite different from ours, but that does not make them any less difficult or challenging.
As adults, we also have the benefit of experience, so we’re often able to cope with our stressors better. Children, on the other hand, may find their stress-inducing situations much more overwhelming.
To help our children cope with stress better, let’s take a look at six helpful tactics that can equip them with the right problem-solving tools.
Help them identify the feeling
Children are sometimes unable to identify the emotion they are experiencing. They might have never felt it before or are simply unsure what is happening to them.
When you notice your child is exhibiting signs of stress, voice how you think they are feeling out loud. For example, you can say something like, “I think you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the homework you have tonight.” Never make an accusation or put a negative spin on the thought.
Teach your child that all emotions, even the negative ones like anger and jealousy, are perfectly normal and that we all feel them. Then, make sure you talk to them about the best ways to deal with these same feelings.
Actively listen to them
Whenever your child is telling you about their feelings or the stress they are under, never dismiss any of their emotions or thoughts. Even if you don’t necessarily feel they should be feeling what they’re feeling, allow them to express themselves and work on finding a solution. Never belittle or grudge anything they tell you.
No matter what you are doing, if your child comes up to you and wants to talk about something that’s worrying them, devote all of your attention to your child’s immediate needs. Everything else can wait.
Identify the stressor
Depending on what is causing your child’s stress, there may be a lot you can do to help them out. For example, if they are overwhelmed by all the extracurricular activities they have to attend, simply excuse them from some.
On the other hand, if the stress is caused by something as unshakeable as exam season, you may need to adopt a different tactic. Easing exam stress can involve anything from helping them with their study sessions to easing some of their household chores.
All in all, that’s why it’s so important to first understand what the root of the stress is.
Give them something to do
Sometimes, the best thing to do about everyday stress is to occupy the mind with something else. That way, we can avoid dwelling on the situation at hand. If this is what your child needs, help them by filling up their day a bit more than usual.
You can spend more time together as a family, for example. Instead of merely watching TV, which still allows the mind to wander, play a game together or have a conversation.
You can also give your child more to do around the house, make sure they see more people or provide new means of entertainment. A new game or a new book can be helpful.
Make sure they get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation is a major contributing factor to stress. If your child is staying up late and getting up early, they may be feeling even worse than usual.
Keep in mind that kids need anywhere between 9 and 13 hours of sleep per night, depending on their age. If you notice they are routinely getting less, it’s time to make a change.
You can start by implementing a new evening routine. Read a book together or snuggle up in bed and talk about your day. Generally start their routine earlier than usual, as they may need longer to fall asleep when they are stressed out.
Don’t push them
Children, especially teenagers, will not always want to talk about the thing that is stressing them out. When this is the case, don’t push them and don’t ask too many questions. You just need to be there if they want to talk and try not to add too much fuel to the fire.
The trigger your child is battling may seem trivial to you as an adult. Regardless of that, let them work their way through it in their own time and on their own terms.
Stress, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel, can actually teach us a lot. However, we first have to take the time to learn our lessons from every stressful situation. By teaching your child how to cope better and arming them with the right routines and tools, you will help them handle stress well for the rest of their lives.
Holly Schaeffer is a long-time writer focusing on health, lifestyle, and home improvement. Originally from New Jersey, she moved to California to pursue a degree in creative writing. She now spends her days split between writing and raising her two young sons.