Let’s face it, stress and anxiety are terms we’ve become familiar with over the years. Stress can come from any number of sources, from starting a new job to the first day of school, but it is above all a normal and manageable part of life. As a parent, it can be difficult seeing your child struggle with anxiety, but by changing the approach to challenging situations, we can turn our struggles into meaningful learning experiences. There is no age limit for stress or anxiety, so we all stand to benefit from learning simple coping strategies for when times get tough.
Remember, the goal is not to “cure” stress, but rather to find out the underlying cause of the stress and reduce it by using healthy coping skills.
Make Time to Decompress
Stress can build up over the course of a day, a week, sometimes even longer, depending on the circumstances. No matter what might be going on, making time every day to process our emotions can keep rising stress from boiling over. Set aside a time and place where your child can express their feelings in a relaxed setting. Even chatting with your child in your car can be a perfect place to try this because it doesn’t feel like a “sit down” which sometimes can inadvertently increase stress. You can use this time to talk candidly with your child and discover what methods of stress management your child responds to best. Some children may benefit from having time alone, engaging in a fun hobby or just speaking their mind. Whatever method works best, your child will always benefit from having open communication with you! Just remember to listen. Sometimes your child may need the space to express their feelings without our providing a solution for them.
Breathing is a vital skill that is sometimes taken for granted, but it’s also a powerful tool that your child can take with them wherever they go. Practicing simple breathing exercises can help your child learn to regulate their emotions by lowering their heart rate and calming their nervous system. Just one deep breath can make a big difference in responding to stress and keeping cool under pressure. Go ahead, try it out with them! This can be a time for you to model for your child that it can work for you too. There are several breathing exercises to choose from, such as square breathing, belly breathing or pursed-lip breathing. Lead your child through exercises that they can use at any time, keeping in mind that deep breathing and regular practice make the biggest impact.
While some kids might groan at the thought of exercise, the simple act of going for a walk can help your child reduce stress. Focusing on an active task allows children to refresh their state of mind while also improving their physical well-being. If your child seems to be bored or unmotivated at home, try finding activities that you and your child can enjoy together. Make stress your motivator to give tough situations a positive outcome in the form of a dance party, a race around the block or their favorite sport. These meaningful bonding experiences can promote healthy habits and stress relief that will help your child through the challenges to come.
Managing stress and anxiety is a learned skill, but with time and patience, these simple habits can benefit your child for years to come. Preparing a tool belt of coping mechanisms will help your child face their stressors rather than shy away from them. While we wish we could protect our children from all the hardships life has to offer, it’s through these difficult situations that the best lessons can be learned, both for you and your child. So, teach your child to embrace their stress in positive and constructive ways to make way for more manageable days ahead!
At Hill School, we provide an education for students who learn differently by addressing the needs of the whole student in a supportive environment. Students learn in different ways and should be provided with a variety of instructional approaches and resources to support their learning in the classroom. Read more about the Hill School difference here.