The first half of the school year is coming to a close and the holidays are here. Children and parents alike have mastered their routines. However, waking up late or missing the bus can throw a real curveball, and a forgotten lunch or missed announcement about a project due date can throw the entire family into scramble mode.
These stresses and situations are real and can be extremely detrimental to the success of your child throughout the academic year. And stress coupled with depression, pressure and boredom is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, it’s imperative that parents make sure their kids know how to avoid stress and when they can’t, know how to cope with it.
So how can parents help their children avoid, manage and relieve stress? The following tips provide a great start:
Tips to Help Children Avoid or Manage Stress:
• Children need to take time for self-care and to have a little fun. What is your child good at? Sports? Theater? Math? Find activities that support their ability to be successful. If they don’t like sports, don’t expect signing them up for football to help.
• Help children learn to change their thinking. Do they know it’s ok to fail at something? Help them see failure as opportunity. An opportunity to adjust or change the way they view something.
• Take assignments one step at a time and set obtainable goals. It’s easy to get carried away when your child has five assignments due next week. Help them prioritize and then focus on one at a time.
Stress keeps students focused and aware of all the things that need to be done. It can motivate kids to study harder and complete assignments and projects on time. But when stress levels become more than a motivating tool, or when pressures are too intense or last too long, it may be a sign your child is in stress overload. In order to avoid this situation, follow these tips:
How Parents Can Help Their Children Relieve Stress:
• Encourage physical activity. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to keep stress levels under control. A family game of tag or hide and seek can do wonders.
• Laugh. Strive to have one big belly laugh a day.
• Practice positive self-talk.
• Encourage mantras such as “this too shall pass” or “I can handle this.”
• Make sure the things that bring your children joy aren’t overlooked and included in daily and weekly routines.
• Let your children know it’s ok to share their feelings with friends and family.
• Make the best out of stressful circumstances – be optimistic – your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things.
• Let your children know it’s ok to ask for help. People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress better.
Helping your child learn how to avoid stressful situations and manage stress when they’re in the heat of it, prepares them for the academic years to come.
Signs of stress overload and that it may be time for professional help:
• Anxiety or panic attacks
• Irritability and moodiness
• Physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches, or even chest pain
• Allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma
• Problems sleeping
• Sadness or depression
Sara Listar-Guest is a Marriage and Family Therapist for Southwest Behavioral & Health Services. For more information about helping your children manage stress, visit the Southwest Behavioral & Health Service website at www.sbhservices.org.