I have had several parents schedule appointments with me recently wanting to discuss how they can help their child/children deal with stress. Children face stressors that can affect their daily lives all the time. How you help support them can enhance their mental and physical well-being. Is it surprising to hear that not all stress is negative? Keep reading to find out more about dealing with stress.
A minute about stress
Any developments that require your child to change or adapt may incite anxiety. Even positive events can trigger stress. Moving, making new friends, and even going on holiday are changes that can induce stress. Some stress may be beneficial. As children develop, manageable stress helps them learn to become resilient. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) emphasizes that in non-life-threatening situations, stress can motivate people. Presenting in front of an audience or trying out for the soccer team may prompt this short-term stress. But ongoing stress takes a toll and requires more support. Understanding the signs of stress in children and helping them cope is key to their mental and physical well-being.
Helping children cope with stressTo support children experiencing ongoing stress, here are five ways to help:
1. Ensuring your child has a stable environment
While our International lives can often feel unstable with big moves and ongoing transitions, there are strategies to create a stable home life.
Knowing we can navigate some things in our lives helps us feel less stressed. This is true for children as well. When possible, you can suggest they identify options and make choices. When they choose well, you can celebrate their efforts. Also, considering the unexpected can be jarring. When changes are coming, you could let them know in advance. If you need to rearrange a schedule or reschedule a family visit, you can tell your children as soon as possible. Try to help them get used to the change rather than react to it.
3. Attending to behavioral changes
You can set aside time to talk with your children individually. Try listening to their responses without interrupting. You can actively listen by trying to ask questions to understand what they’re going through. You can watch for signs of stress. Rather than moving toward an action plan, try to identify and name their emotions by using the mood meter. By showing care and affection and simply listening to your child, your child can see that you’re on their team, supporting them. You might explore with them how they could resolve their source of stress.
4. Encouraging physical activity
Like adults, exercising is an easy way for your children to work out their frustrations. They also gain a mental health boost. It’s beneficial for their bodies and can help them cope.
5. Getting professional help
If relief doesn’t come and your child shows signs of depression, isolation, or elevated anxiety, you can seek expert help with the school counselor. Your school counselor can also help you learn more about coping skills to help kids manage stress. You can schedule an appointment with Ms. Marlo at https://calendly.com/marlo-frontiera/meeting
*6. Have Fun Together - Bonus Tip
There is a reason why we say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” We all have busy lives and making time to do the things we love, with the ones we love is important! It can also alleviate stress.
*Adapted from - Beth Dumey, MA. “Helping Children Cope with Stress : 5 Tips.” Psych Central, Psych Central, 9 Sept. 2022, https://psychcentral.com/stress/tips-for-helping-your-child-manage-stress.