10 Stress Management Tips for Kids
Stress has no age limits.
When it comes to difficult situations, each child’s defence mechanisms are different.
So, how can you help your child cope during these stressful times? Consider these 10 tips.
1. Know the Signs
To help a child who’s feeling anxious you have to start by knowing the signs:
- Mood swings or changes in behaviour
- Irritability (anger, sadness, whining)
- Physical ailments (headaches or stomach aches, nausea, heart palpitations, eczema, diarrhea, more frequent asthma attacks, bedwetting)
- Sleep problems (nightmares, difficulty falling asleep, frequent crying while sleeping)
- Increased or reduced appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Learning difficulties
- Separation anxiety
- Not wanting to go to school or daycare
- Intense or disproportionate emotional reactions
- Withdrawal or isolation
2. Be More Organized
Stress can often stem from a lack of time or preparation.
Review your child’s routine together. Prepare a schedule that gives your child enough time to do their tasks. Make sure they are comfortable with the schedule.
Make sure the toys your kids play with regularly are always handy. Having to look for toys can be stressful. Being organized is good for the mind!
3. More Autonomy
When children are under duress, it’s normal to want to move heaven and Earth to help them!
However, the solution is not to eliminate all sources of stress. Unexpected surprises and novelty are part of every child’s learning. It’s best to teach kids to manage their stress early on.
In fact, kids are resilient and will often find their own solutions. Avoid overprotecting them. Help them make decisions for themselves.
This can sound like a cliché but knowing that they are in control will bolster your child’s confidence.
4. Build Their Confidence
The inability to manage stress is often accompanied by a fear of failure, dread and powerlessness in the face of unrealistic and irrational fears.
Acknowledge your child’s progress and reward them by doing something fun together.
Then ask yourself: are my expectations too high? Am I putting undue pressure on my child to be perfect? Is my child doing too many extracurricular activities? If the answer is yes, then set the bar a little lower and be a little more indulgent.
5. Talk About Your Feelings
To break the isolation and guilt, ask your child what’s on their mind—without judging.
If your child is shy or has trouble opening up, ask them open-ended questions. Never leave a yes, no or I don’t know answer unexamined.
Tell them a story where the hero finds himself in a similar situation. Then, ask your child to explain what the hero is going through in their own words. You can also describe the hero’s anguish.
Reassure your child. Tell them that you are there to accompany them and that they can always count on you. Your love and support will make sure they never feel abandoned.
6. Happy Thoughts
When you can feel the tension mounting and your child can’t seem to calm down, diffuse the situation by taking a break.
Tell them to think about something that makes them happy like their accomplishments or times when they overcame their fears.
7. Meditation or Relaxation
Meditation isn’t just for adults, it’s for kids too!
Meditating means appreciating the present and not rehashing the past or ruminating over things you can’t change. Get your child to focus on their mind and body.
By meditating every day, you train your brain to better deal with stressful situations.
Not sure how to get started? Download an app or check out some YouTube videos— some of which cater to children.
If meditation is not your thing, then try taking up a relaxing hobby:
Free play and role-playing games are also good tension relievers.
8. Tell Jokes
Laughter is a great way to ease tension.
Just like physical activity, laughing releases endorphins, known as the happy hormone, which reduce anxiety.
Make telling jokes and funny stories a daily activity. Just make sure that your child doesn’t think you’re laughing at them or their fears. Their fears are real, so keep things light.
It’s important to lead by example because anxiety is contagious.
9. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
A sound mind in a sound body. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, your child will be better equipped to deal with the unexpected.
Exercise is shown to be beneficial for coping with stress. By allowing your child to play outside and do team sports, you enable them to relax and release endorphins.
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish and seafood. Incorporate new flavours into your menu.
Trade juice and soda pop for water.
Eliminate (or reduce) the following from your family’s diet:
- Refined sugars
- Processed foods
- Junk food
- Bad fat and fried foods
Eat and go to bed at regular times. Having a set schedule gives your child reference points.
Going to sleep is not always easy. Initiate a bedtime ritual that calms your child down before falling asleep. Repeating the same steps every night will make it easier for them to doze off.
Your child still doesn’t want to sleep? There are other options.
Use Parental Controls
According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, the issue is not the time spent on a screen—It’s the quality of the content.
Allow your child to play video games or use a tablet as long as it doesn’t affect their social and school life. Physical and social activities as well as sleep should be their priorities.
The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines offer more nuance than those of the Canadian Pediatric Society. They recommend no more than two hours per day of recreational screen time for children over five.
As always, limits and good judgment apply.
10. Call A Specialist
Keep an eye on the symptoms. If they persist, consult a healthcare professional.
Stress is a fact of life. Sooner or later, your child will have to learn that. Tension and stress can lead to anxiety, mood disorders, exhaustion and even depression.
Don’t wait, take action immediately.