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  • Writer's pictureKatie Pierce

7 Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Manage Stress

By Katie Pierce

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As parents, it can be difficult to know what to do about stress in the lives of our kids. The problem is that no two kids are alike and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You need to find out who we are dealing with, how they cope emotionally when stressed, and then work together to come up with an approach that will address their needs. It's important not just for you as a parent but also for your children. They deserve to feel safe and loved. Here are some ways that parents can help their kids manage stress:

1. Talk to your child.

Sometimes, children just need someone to talk to and make them feel heard. Stressful situations often cause kids teenagers to shut down or retreat from family members. However, talking things through can really help relieve tension and give you both an opportunity to process feelings. As a parent, you don't want to force change, but sometimes, you do need to encourage your child to express their feelings. Don't worry about being perfect; just try to acknowledge when your child is having a rough time and offer some positive attention.

2. Teach coping skills.

Kids have different ways of dealing with stressful situations. It's important for children to get some of those stress out of their bodies! Some turn to food while others exercise, play video games, watch TV, or read books. Younger kids can also benefit from methods that help helps with sensory integration, which means helping a child learn how his or her senses affect moods. These kits include items like weighted blankets, stuffed animals, and even a play kit designed to support relaxation. Think of how you deal with stress as well. Your way of dealing with stress can be the same as your child's.

3. Give your child some freedom.

Freedom is a great thing. Over-scheduling your child with too many activities can make them more stressed than necessary. This leads to feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, and overstimulated—all of which leave children unable to relax. So, as a parent, give your child some freedom. Give them the freedom to choose what activities they want to participate in, what clothes they wear, and even how they spend time after school every day. Be open to letting go of some control. As far as homework goes, set reasonable expectations for them. Don’t force them to finish an impossible task.

4. Take care of yourself.

If you're struggling to handle tough times at home, it's easy to put on a brave face around friends, neighbors, and co-workers, but chances are you'll only end up hurting yourself more. Kids tend to pick up on these cues. So, try to focus on taking care of yourself during challenging moments instead of putting on a smile for everyone else. Get enough sleep and eat healthily, and cut back on alcohol and caffeine. These habits alone will improve your overall mental wellbeing, but they can also help you better connect with your kids.

5. Teach them how to communicate properly.

Kids have very distinct personalities. One might always react to a certain situation by crying or yelling, while another may be able to calm themselves down by thinking about something totally unrelated. It takes practice to communicate properly, so you need to be patient. There are also communication curriculums that help children develop their communication skills. You could look into one of those programs or simply work with your kid one-on-one until he or she is comfortable expressing emotions. With better communication, you can be better at helping your child deal with stress.

6. Promote positive thoughts.

Negativity can take its toll on both adults and kids. While there's nothing wrong with having negative feelings sometimes, it's best to minimize them. So, when you feel like your child's outlook is negative, encourage him or her to think differently. Focus on good memories from the past. Talk about how much fun it was being together during that one vacation trip. Remind your child of all the reasons why you love him or her. All of this is meant not only to help with stress, but also to foster emotional growth.

7. Educate yourself.

There are plenty of resources available online to help parents understand the stress of parenting. Reading articles and books on how to help your child with stressful situations can make all the difference. In addition, speaking to other parents who've been through similar circumstances can really help. You may even listen to our Community Podcast where we share people's news and stories and connect people to their community. Having support systems in place can help reduce parental anxiety and stress.

The Bottom Line

Nobody wants to be overly stressed, especially your children. And so as parents, you should learn how to help your child manage their stress. With these tips, it can be easier for you to help your child cope with his or her stressors.


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