Helping Children Cope With Stress

Childhood might appear carefree to adults. However, children are still stressed. School and their social lives may often produce demands that feel overwhelming to children. You can’t shield your children from stress, but you can help them develop healthy coping mechanisms and problem-solving strategies.

Children cope with stress in both good and bad ways. While kids may not begin a conversation about what is hurting them, they do want their parents to reach out and assist them in dealing with their problems.

But it’s not always simple for parents to know what to do for a stressed-out youngster.

Here are some suggestions:


Declare your observation aloud. Inform your youngster if you observe something troubling him or her. If you can, describe the emotion you believe your kid is feeling. (“It appears you’re still upset about what happened at the playground.”) This should not seem accusatory (as in, “OK, what happened now?”). (“Are you still upset about that?”) or confront a youngster. It’s only a passing remark that you’d want to learn more about your child’s worry. Be compassionate and demonstrate that you care and want to understand.

Pay attention to your child. Request that your youngster explain what is wrong. Listen carefully and slowly, with curiosity, patience, openness, and concern. Avoid the temptation to criticize, accuse, scold, or suggest what your child should have done instead. The goal is to make your child’s worries and feelings known. Ask questions like “And then what happened?” to obtain the whole narrative. Allow yourself plenty of time. Allow your youngster to take his or her time as well.

Comment briefly on the emotions you believe your child was feeling. “That must have been upsetting,” “No wonder you were upset when they wouldn’t let you in the game,” or “That must have seemed unfair to you,” for example. This demonstrates that you understand how and why your child feels and that you care. Feeling heard and listened to makes your child feel supported by you, which is especially crucial during stressful times.

Make a label for it. Many younger children do not yet have words to express their emotions. If your child appears to be angry or upset, use those words to help him or her learn to name the emotions. Putting feelings into words allows children to communicate as well as develop emotional awareness (the ability to understand their own emotional states). Children who can do so are less likely to reach the behavioral boiling point when powerful emotions are expressed via actions rather than words.

Assist your youngster in coming up with activities. If there is a specific issue that is producing stress, discuss possible solutions together. Encourage your youngster to come up with a few suggestions. Start brainstorming if required, but don’t undertake all of the job. Your child’s active engagement will boost his or her confidence. Encourage good ideas and contribute to them as required. “How do you think this will work?” I inquire.

Listen, then move on. Sometimes just talking, listening, and feeling understood is enough to let a child’s frustrations melt away. After that, try changing the conversation to something more uplifting and calming. Assist your child in coming up with something to do to feel better. Give the issue no more attention than it deserves.

Reduce stress wherever feasible. If particular conditions are giving you stress, try if you can modify them. For example, if too many after-school activities routinely generate homework stress, it may be important to reduce activities so that time and energy are available for homework.

Simply be present. Kids don’t always want to talk about their problems. That is sometimes acceptable. Let your children know you’ll be there when they’re ready to chat. Even though children do not want to converse, they do not want their parents to abandon them. You may make your child feel better simply by being present and spending time with him or her. So, if you see that your child is depressed, worried, or having a terrible day but isn’t feeling like talking, start something you can do together. Take a stroll, watch a movie, play some basketball, or make some cookies. Isn’t it good to know that your presence is appreciated?

Please be patient. It hurts as a parent to watch your child miserable or worried. However, avoid the impulse to solve every problem. Instead, concentrate on gradually but steadily developing your child into a good problem solver — a youngster who understands how to deal with life’s ups and downs, put feelings into words, cool down when necessary, and bounce back to try again.

Parents cannot address all of their children’s problems as they grow up. However, by teaching good coping methods, you will equip your children to deal with future pressures.

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