7 Easy Tips to Deal With Stress in Children

March 01, 2022

With increasing screen time and pressure from schools and peers, it is no surprise that children are more stressed nowadays compared to what we knew growing up. Without properly addressing it, these kids could grow up with unhealthy coping mechanisms and poor mental health.

As kids, they rely on you to guide them through these complex emotions. But truth is, parents are sometimes lost for what to do when their children start acting out. And that’s totally fine. You are not expected to have it all figured out. I am happy to share these ideas that have worked for me over the years.

  1. Show their feeling is valid

A child won’t act out if s/he feels heard and understood. To help your child manage stress, you should genuinely listen and let them know the feeling is valid. If you listen carefully, you can tell the stressor right away, irrespective of the age and speaking level of the child. For younger children, you can begin by helping them name their feeling. Use crayons, colors, emojis, or toys. The goal is to correctly distinguish the feeling and the level they are at.

  1. Use quick calming techniques

Stress comes with an overwhelming amount of negative emotions like anger and anxiety. Before offering a solution, be sure to help them calm down with quick calming strategies. Granted, these strategies won’t fix the problem, however, they will offer a quick fix to give you a better environment to find a lasting solution. An example is the breathing exercise. By simply controlling their breath, they can restore their heart rate to normal levels, sending a sense of calm all over their body. Another quick fix is reciting numbers or words. You can teach your child certain numbers or words to use whenever they get angry or stressed.

  1. Time for the talk

The earlier you talk about stress, the easier it is for your child to learn how to handle stress. People tend to see stress as the enemy, when in fact, stress can be a good growth indicator if handled well. Since stress is a recurring occurrence throughout one’s lifetime, it is better to teach your child to see stress differently. Instead of seeing stressors as the end of the world, teach them that this is just a normal feeling that they can easily navigate with the right attitude. Help them cultivate this attitude and ensure they put it into work whenever similar issues come up.

  1. Help them sleep better

Hard to believe but sleep is usually the culprit in most cases of prolonged stress in children. Like your phone, your body will shut down if it doesn’t get enough time to recharge. Sleep time is the body’s time to recharge and get you rejuvenated for the day ahead. Children (and adults alike) who don’t get enough sleep are bound to feel stressed eventually because they become easily irritated. Poor sleep also cause high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) which increases your heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

  1. Teach them to write it out

Psychologists recommend writing for stress management in children and adults. Even as adults, you will agree you feel better after writing out exactly how you feel. Somehow, it feels like writing reduces the pain and helps you see things clearly. As a matter of fact, therapists advise patients to write out their feelings at different times in the day just to help them process things better. Now imagine how much good this will do for your kid. Instead of throwing their toys or screaming, your child will benefit from writing or drawing just how they feel.

  1. Time to declutter

You recall I stated some stressors from the introduction – increasing screen time, competition from peers and school. A lasting solution is to declutter. By that, I mean reducing their workload, screen time, and getting them involved in fun and rewarding activities like games, music, and exercising.

  1. Guide them through problem-solving

As a parent, your first instinct is always to protect your child. We will literally give our lives just to protect our children. However, no one raised a resilient child by protecting them from everything. Instead of giving them the answers, try guiding them through the process. First, identify the stressor and talk them through the process of resolving it. Ask them how they want to handle it and point out the flaws in negative responses until they get to the safe conclusion you have in mind. This sharpens their problem-solving skills and helps them to be more resilient next time.

Parting thought

Stress is a normal feeling. Like you, your kid wants to understand this feeling and how best to cope with it. Instead of punishing them or sending them to their room, take some time to listen and offer good coping mechanisms. You’ve got this!

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