Helping your children deal with stress
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]