Help­ing your chil­dren deal with stress

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Viewpoints -

Grow­ing up is not al­ways fun and games – it is full of big emo­tions; and feel­ings of worry or stress im­pact even young chil­dren.

Many things can cause stress in a child’s life, in­clud­ing fam­ily, friends and school.

As well, like adults, chil­dren can also be­come stressed if they feel that they did not meet their own ex­pec­ta­tions; if they feel that they have failed in some way.

Here are some tips and ex­am­ples on how to help your child cope with stress.

1. Re­duce the amount of stress in your lives

Yes, it is eas­ier said than done, but there are some things that you can do to re­duce the amount of stress in your daily life. For ex­am­ple:

Ac­knowl­edge your child's feel­ings and be sup­port­ive. Let your child know that you no­tice how they are feel­ing (e.g. scared or frus­trated). Let them know ev­ery­one ex­pe­ri­ences feel­ings like that some­times.

De­velop trust and show love. Let your child know that mis­takes are learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. Show them warmth and hug them of­ten.

Have clear ex­pec­ta­tions with­out be­ing too strict. Don't over-sched­ule your child with too many ac­tiv­i­ties.

Be aware of what your child wants (not just what you want).

2. Build pos­i­tive cop­ing skills

It is im­por­tant to help chil­dren learn pos­i­tive cop­ing skills – they will carry these skills with them into adult­hood.

Pro­vide a good ex­am­ple. Keep calm, and ex­press your anger in ap­pro­pri­ate ways.

Teach them about con­se­quences. Chil­dren need to learn about the con­se­quences-good and bad-of their ac­tions.

Give them some choice. For ex­am­ple, al­low them to ar­range their rooms, or choose a fam­ily ac­tiv­ity.

En­cour­age them to eat healthy foods, and em­pha­size the im­por­tance of a healthy life­style. 3. Get the stress out

Find­ing ways to get stress out of their sys­tems will help chil­dren feel bet­ter. Try some of these ideas to see which ones work best for your child:

Ex­er­cise. Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is one of the best ways to man­age stress. Try ac­tiv­i­ties like walk­ing, bik­erid­ing, out­door play, or sports.

Write or draw. Older chil­dren of­ten find it help­ful to write about the things that are both­er­ing them. Younger chil­dren may be helped by draw­ing about those things.

Let feel­ings out. In­vite your child to talk, laugh, cry, and ex­press anger when he or she needs to.

Learn ways to re­lax. Ex­am­ples in­clude breath­ing ex­er­cises, mas­sage, aro­mather­apy, med­i­tat­ing, pray­ing, and yoga.

Do some­thing fun and LAUGH! Laugh­ter re­ally can be the best medicine.

You can be a good role model in this area by look­ing for the hu­mour in life.

Your child can learn this valu­able skill by watching you.

All of this in­for­ma­tion and much more, can be found at www.my­health.al­berta.ca

Amanda Poll is a Health Pro­mo­tion Fa­cil­i­ta­tor with Al­berta Health Ser­vices in the South Zone. She can be reached by e-mail: [email protected]

AMANDA POLL

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