Three Ways to Help Children Manage Stress

Today’s children feel the pressure of standards based testing, high performance expectations, social media pressure, and complicated family dynamics. It’s no wonder why doctors and psychologists report an uptick in stress and anxiety.

Stress occurs because of a stressor which is simply a thing that causes a stress response.  For example, going to a party where your child might not know anyone is a often a stressful event.  Your child’s body reacts to this and it causes a stressful reaction like an increased heart rate and difficulty focusing.  Anxiety often follows which is the unpleasant feeling of worry that alerts your child to a threat. In this case, “What if other kids laugh at me and think I’m a loner?”

Parents stress to so consider your own stress level.  When you are stressed it can carry over to increase your child’s stress. Do you stress about his grades more than he does?  Doing homework is a stressor for many parents and kids.  Furthermore, there’s a genetic link to anxiety and it often runs in families.  This implies you might be part of the cause of your child’s stress so taking care of your own stress might also help your child’s stress.

Three Ways to Help Children Manage Stress

If you want to help your child decrease his or her stress, try reading children’s books, practicing mindfulness, and limit how much news your child views.  It’s called bibliotherapy when you read your child a children’s literature book about dealing with stress.  Children relate to characters in kids’ books.  What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety is a great book for you to read to your child because it uses some of the same techniques professional counselors.

Mindfulness is teaching children to be relaxed and focused by calming their mind and becoming aware of their body.  It helps kids with focus, listening, slowing down, and remaining calm under stress.  You can practice with your child by searching YouTube for kids mindfulness videos.

Limit TV and showing your child the daily news.  Kids are observant and pay attention to more than what you might realize.  Even if they are not watching the news, they are usually listening!  Melissa’s child stressed over the smallest of stories like a dog that was lost and found far away so she obsessed on her family dog getting lost.  Her daughter’s anxiety reached a point that Melissa stopped watching TV news and now gets news online.

I coauthored a book on helping children manage stress that has many other practical ideas you can use right away.  It’s available on Amazon.

About 30% of kids with stress need professional help.  If you’ve tried the above strategies, consider contacting our office to help your child with stress and anxiety.  Another source to find a professional counselor is the South Florida Association of Christian Counselors. You can reach us at (561) 625-4125.