By Meredith Gettleman, LSW, Youth and Family Therapist As adults, we accept stress as a normal part of life and can navigate our stressors. Even though stress is just as common among youth, they haven't developed the skills to properly cope with these emotions. Parents and caregivers can help their children learn how to deal with their own stress and anxiety, which can be related to relationships, schoolwork, pressure to get good grades, and balancing social life with school and other activities. Although it may be difficult to know what to say or do when your child is stressed, they value your consistent support.
8 Tips to Help Your Kids (and Yourself!) Manage Stress
- Focus on basics – Get enough sleep and eat well. These are both crucial for coping with stress and regulating our emotions.
- Encourage talk about stressors – Even if the cause of your child's stress can’t be solved right away, it can be helpful to talk it out. It's okay if they don't feel comfortable talking to you, as long as they have someone supportive to talk to.
- Make mistakes – Mistakes are opportunities for learning. If children understand this, they'll be able to deal with stressful situations in a much more positive and healthy way.
- Practice relaxation techniques – Deep breathing and mindfulness are helpful tools for coping with intense emotions.
- Talk about coping strategies – Think about what calms you or improves your mood when you're feeling stressed, and help your child brainstorm techniques that will calm them. Some examples include listening to music, exercising, and journaling.
- Prioritize tasks – Help your child figure out what needs to get done and what can wait.
- Have fun – Life is about balance, and self-care is vital. Encourage your child to balance responsibilities with activities that make them happy.
- Manage your own stress – Modeling how you manage your own stress levels will also help you stay calm, be the best parent you can, and not add additional stress to your child’s life!
As published in the CTAD Newsletter, December 2018