It seems that stress is becoming more and more common among our children today. The material our kindergarteners are now learning is the same that most of us learned in first grade back when we were growing up. Along with higher academic pressures come higher social stresses as well. As parents, one of our many jobs is not to make our children’s lives less stressful, but to help them manage that stress. Today we’re going to visit just a few of the many ways we can do this:
1. Model Positive Stress Management
Think back to your own childhood and your role models. As children, we learn our stress management skills from the adults in our lives. Why not be the person your kids look up to in such an amazing developmental stage? Read on to learn some other great ways to be that person in their lives.
2. Encourage Good Sleep Habits
I often find it easier to tackle a stressful day when I’ve had a good night’s rest. Lay a strong foundation for a peaceful night by making sure your kids have a dark, cool room to sleep in, no electronics in their bedroom, and maybe even a cozy place to read when it’s time for bed and they aren’t quite tired. Let’s be honest, even as adults, we all occasionally experience those evenings when we know we should be sleeping but just can’t get to sleep. Be prepared for these nights in advance!
3. Foster a Close Relationship
A close relationship with your child gives you an avenue of communication that you will never have any other way. In our house, we make our best efforts to have a date night with each of our boys on a regular basis. That one-on-one time with them reminds each of them of their importance in our hearts and lives while giving them an opportunity to talk about things that might be difficult otherwise. It also teaches our boys about social and conversational skills by just letting them live. The more they learn simple things like this the better they will be able to handle what life throws at them as they grow.
4. Learn That Everyone Worries
Does it ever help your state of mind to know that you aren’t the only one going through something? Kids feel that, too. Talk to your kids about how natural their stress and worries are to everyday life. Once they’ve settled into that knowledge, it makes it easier to bring up other tricky subjects. Again, communication is key.
5. Make Something Stressful into Something Attainable
A great stressor for people, no matter their age, is trying something new. Make this stress melt away for your kids by helping them learn! There are scientifically proven benefits to trying, failing and continuing to work at things. This makes trying something new so much more important. The best way to reduce this stress is to break a stressful task into accomplishable steps, if possible. Not only does this teach our kids that trying something new is a positive task, but we also help them see how easy it can be to reach for their dreams!
6. Encourage Random Acts of Kindness
Have you ever had someone in the Starbucks line buy your cup of coffee for you? Or, maybe, someone at the grocery store let you go ahead of them in line? These random acts of kindness don’t have to cost much, but they’re sure to bring a smile to the face of both the giver and receiver. Teach your child how little it takes, and they can pass along those moments of joy. Even when it mostly benefits the other person, it still decreases stress when you share a positive moment with someone else.
7. Deep Breathing Exercises
My oldest son is very prone to stress and getting upset. I’ve found the best thing I can do with him is to encourage him to take a deep breath. Together, we take three deep breaths in through our nose and out through our mouths. This may sounds silly in print, but give it a try. Deep breathing can diffuse the tension from almost any situation.
It can seem like a lot to take in when you think about the stressors facing our kids today, but you are the best role model your child has in learning to cope. The key is not in preventing anxiety or stress, but in giving your child the tools and confidence to handle it appropriately. Take a step back from the situation and think about how to best help your children today. What will you teach them first?