We frequently see articles and suggestions about ways for adults to manage their stress, but what about our kids? Kids feel the effects of stress every bit as much as adults do, and sometimes probably even more so. So shouldn’t we teach our kids how to help manage their stress?
Stress Management Tips for Kids
We all know that exercise is good for our physical health, but it is also good for your mental health. If your child is feeling stressed out or overwhelmed encourage them to get some exercise. Any exercise that increases the heart rate for a short time can help to calm the body’s natural fight or flight response. Exercise also releases endorphins in the brain which can help to make you feel better.
Getting outside and getting some fresh air can really help to ease anxiety and stress in children. Many children spend a lot of time indoors behind a desk during the school year, getting outdoors even if it is just a walk around the block can help to change their perspective and bring a sense of calm.
Turn on Some Music
If your child is feeling anxious or stressed encourage them to listen to a favorite song. Many studies have shown that listening to music can change your mood. If your child is so inclined encourage them to sing and dance along with their music.
Deep breathing exercises and knowing how to do them properly can give your child a tool that they can use to calm down no matter where they are. Encourage them to take several slow deep breaths and then exhale them completely.
Not getting enough quality sleep can cause a wide range of mental and physical health problems, including feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep each night, and that they have time to wind down and calm down before bedtime. A warm shower or bath about an hour before bedtime can be just the trick. On average kids need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night.
Talk It Out
Encourage your child to talk with you or another trusted adult about things in their lives that cause them feelings of stress or anxiety. By talking things out they may learn new ways of looking at things or new ways of dealing with those feelings. Talking about a problem can make it seem smaller and less scary and it also helps your child to feel loved and supported.
Who doesn’t want a hug from their child or to hug their child? A long hug (about 20 to 30 seconds) can be a great tool in your stress management tool kit for your child. Long hugs release oxytocin a hormone that relaxes the body and lowers anxiety levels. They also help to reduce the levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine and lower blood pressure.
Put Their Brain to Work
When your child is feeling overwhelmed try giving their brain something to do. This can be a puzzle, crossword, Sudoku, word searches, or a Rubix cube. Activities like these provide a balance of distraction and focus and this can make the problem feel smaller and less scary.
These are just a few of the tips and tricks that you can use to help teach your child how to manage their stress. Being able to keep feelings of stress and anxiety under control is an important part of learning and growing and these tips work just as well for parents too.