We all deal with stress in our lives, but it can be even harder on children. Many kids are still trying to understand their own complex emotions, so they may not be able to identify certain stressors like adults can. This makes stress and anxiety even harder to overcome for them, but there are still ways for you to help your child.
The first thing you need to understand is that the goal of managing your child’s stress level is not for them to avoid what is giving them trouble. Don’t go around removing stressors in their path so they never have to face their anxiety again. It might make things better in the short term, but they will never learn to tolerate them. What happens when you’re not around and they come face to face with a problem they can’t handle?
School can be a major stressor for your child, since it is where they spend most of their time while growing up. Problems can be associated with anything from schoolwork and parental expectations to social issues among their peers, like bullying. Whatever the issues are, it’s important that you provide them with realistic expectations for how they can handle these issues. Talk things out to get to the bottom of their stress, and never reinforce your child’s fears as something they should actually be afraid of.
Establish A Routine
One of the best ways to help relieve stress is to help your child create a routine. Establish a schedule for study time, when they will engage in extracurricular activities, and when they have time for rest and free play.
For kids that experience issues related to anxiety, it can be helpful to break down their fears over the course of a conversation and develop a plan for them to follow if they are ever faced with that scenario. Help them set up a mental checklist when they feel stressed or anxious to help them overcome the issue and regain control.
Find Down Time
As important as your child’s grades are, allowing them to get enough downtime is just as essential. Your child needs a break from mental exertion in order to relieve excess stress and keep them happy. As you craft their schedule of activities between school and homework, ensure they will have enough time to relax and rejuvenate their body and mind.
Over-scheduling can have an adverse effect on your child, especially if they aren’t getting enough sleep. Teenagers need eight to nine hours of sleep every night, and younger kids need even more. Sleep deprivation can impact attention span, memory, energy levels, and even increases the risk of illness. Encourage them to spread their studying over several days, instead of cramming in late night sessions. It’s also good to create a bedtime routine that can get their bodies to calm down and be ready for sleep.
Manage Your Own Stress
Part of helping your child deal with stress is managing your own, so you can help them. If your child sees that you are stressed or worried about them, it can make things worse because then they will think that something is really wrong. Instead, treat their worries and concerns as normal, give them insight into how you have dealt with similar problems, and remember to be patient with them, as this can be a long process.