Strategies to Help Kids Cope with Stress

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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Many parents believe that kids don't experience stress. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kids have a great deal to worry about in school, in the community and at home. Grades, their social life or different family situations all affect kids. These can be overwhelming if your child lacks the skills to cope with such situations.

Kids often hold their feelings inside and do not talk about them unless they are specifically asked. They tend to think their parents should know when there's a problem. However, parents aren't mind readers. Even when they're aware there is a problem, they often don't know how to approach their kids.

Connecting

If you feel your child is worrying or under a lot of stress, you need to connect with him. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

Listen

Listen carefully to your child when he talks to you. It's possible you may have to read between the lines. Be calm, attentive, patient and caring. Do not blame, judge or lecture your child. Be open and allow your child to voice his concerns. Wait until he has finished telling you the entire story. If he stops and you need more information, ask him "What happened next?" Allow your child the time he needs to voice his concerns and feelings.

Notice

If your child acts as if something is bothering him, ask him if he needs to talk about anything. Kids may be exceptionally quiet, feign illness or act out when they are worried or stressed. Just casually let kids know that you are there for them and that they can talk to you about anything.

Label

Label your child's emotions. Use words such as "frustrated" and "angry" to describe his feelings. Kids sometimes have trouble identifying emotions. When you label them it shows you are understanding of his feelings and allows your child to know you are supportive when he is under stress. By putting a label on your child's feelings it will help your child communicate better. When he learns to recognize his feelings, he will also be better able to control them.

Suggestions

Give your child suggestions on how to handle his problems. Ask him to come up with ideas on how to cope. By handling the situation with just a little help and guidance from you, your child's self-esteem and confidence will be boosted. Possibly all he needs is to talk and be listened to for the problem to be less overwhelming. If this doesn't work, try to engage your child in an interesting activity for a positive and relaxing experience. If necessary, revisit the problem when your child is calmer.

Patience

It's difficult to see your child unhappy and dealing with worrisome issues. Stay calm and remain patient. However, you shouldn't solve all of his problems for him. Instead, focus on teaching your child problem solving skills and strategies. This will teach him to accept life's ups and downs. He will learn to rebound from negative experiences and put his best foot forward to try again.

Support

Possibly your child is one who doesn't want to talk about problems and worries. If this is the case, respect his feelings. Give your child the time and the space to deal with the situation on his own. Let him know that you will be there for him in all situations if he needs you. Ask him to do an activity with you to make him feel less alone. If he declines, allow him to deal with his emotions. If he knows he can come to you with his problems, he will approach you if needed.

As your child travels sown the road of life, you won't always be with him in stressful times. If you teach him the skills and strategies to cope with difficult and stressful situations, he will be find life far less stressful. This will allow him to recoup and successfully manage stress throughout his entire life.

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