There are many situations that can make children feel stressed and that you worry about them. You may notice some changes in his behavior such as your child is not so cheerful anymore, he feels irritable and seems to be almost always in a bad mood. Every day he does his homework and is also signed up for different activities, so it looks like you’re having a hard time falling asleep.
Adults We usually talk about feeling stress, but on many occasions we can forget that children also experience stress. Children who are preoccupied with doing everything right and getting along with friends worry about their family as well as their pets. Children also experience periods of acute stress, such as when a loved one dies or when their parents get divorced.
How to help a child deal with stress
As adults, we can figure out different ways to deal with stress in our lives. We need to be able to teach our children to do the same. But then what can you do? How can you help your child successfully deal with stress?
Quick strategies to calm down
When children experience stress, they need simple strategies to find calm.
- Deep breaths. The key to good deep breathing is to have the movements in the belly and not in the chest. To achieve this, you will have to put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. When you breathe, your stomach should be moving. When you breathe the stomach should move. To make it fun for children you can use bubbles, pinwheels or put a teddy bear on the stomach.
- Imagine your favorite place.Have your child imagine the place his favorite in the world. It may be the beach or the forest, it may be a quiet place. Have your child use her 5 senses to think of that spot and ‘stay there’ for a few minutes.
- Pick a number. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on something simple as counting. Have the children choose a new one and count from it. They could also choose a random number like 200 and count backward by sevens. The mind will calm down quickly.
Talk about stress
Children need to know that stress exists and that is why it is important to talk about it. A simple way to ask about his day is to ask about the good things that happened – which you can call roses – and the bad things that happened to him – which you can call thorns. The child may be reluctant to talk to you, but if you do it in a neutral place like the car, it will be a good method to enhance the conversation.
Writing is also a good form of communication. You can keep a journal together so you can talk about things that cause stress and then work out solutions to make them feel better.
Simplify the schedule
Many children feel real pressure to fulfill their schedules, so it will have to be restructured if necessary. If there is something your child would like to stop doing, don’t think about it and reduce their schedule to one or two activities a week, this could reduce their stress. Simplifying their schedule can have an added benefit since you can allow him some time to rest and have the freedom to play, something that in addition to relieving stress, is totally necessary for his health and well-being.
Be a good example
As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. They observe our behaviors and see what we do when we are stressed. We have to model good coping strategies so that they are healthy. Stress coping skills can be: breathing, counting subtraction, going to the gym, doing a crossword puzzle, reading, lying in bed and closing your eyes , listening to music… find your own.
The next time you feel stressed, use a coping skill and share this information with your child. Acknowledge what’s happening to you: ‘I’m feeling stressed right now and I need a little break. I’m going to listen to music for 10 minutes’.