Tips for stress management for your children
It isn’t a matter of if you will be stressed, but when you will be stressed. The same goes for your children! They will learn that it is part of life, but the earlier we teach them coping skills, the better prepared they’ll be.. One of the most important lessons you can teach them is that it is okay to be stressed. Let them know that stress is natural, but should be dealt with and prevented when possible. They might ask their favorite question of “but why?”. The short answer is that too much stress can negatively impact not only mental health, but our physical health too. Want to practice stress management techniques with your family? Here are five easy ways to prevent stress in your children’s lives:
1) Implement a schedule
Kids crave and thrive off a schedule. It provides comfort and reduces stress. Get them on a routine that works for your family and go from there. Just also make sure that it isn’t too rigid, which might create a resistance to sudden change. Need some inspiration to get started? Learn 5 family planner hacks here.
2) Let them visualize it
It is well known that visualization can help reduce stress and panic attacks. Kids are already good at imagining, so something like a visible daily calendar can do wonders for stress reduction. A tool like Hearth Display not only lets them see what is going on today or this week, but it also allows them to track their goals and organize their lives even from a young age.
3) Have time away from tech
Multi-use devices are often overwhelming and produce negative effects in the behavior of kids. Make sure they take time to just be a kid and play in the dirt. Encourage free time and help them imagine. If you are out of calming activity ideas, coloring is a great way to reduce stress even in adults! For more tips on how to balance screen time for kids, click here.
4) Get adequate sleep
We are all cranky when we don’t get enough sleep, so it makes sense that it affects even a child’s anxiety levels. Lack of sleep also causes bad moods and low energy, which often triggers stress. Click here for more information on how many hours your child should be sleeping.
5) Provide healthy meals
We know about the effects of sugar and caffeine even in our adult lives, but it goes further than that. Making sure your kids have well-balanced meals is key to helping them feel their best and act their best. If this is overlooked, they may be deficient in key nutrients that help them function or have gut issues that also affect their mental and physical beings. While you’re at it, you might consider including foods that are proven to help lower anxiety.
As we have discussed, stress will happen regardless, so here are some calming and stress relieving activities for kids:
You feel sad about being stressed? Scream into a pillow, not at your brother or sister. What child doesn’t like the excuse to yell in the house? Be sure to teach them that once they “get it out of their system”, to get back up and try again. This encourages resilience and will be a trait they can utilize in the future.
Count to 10
We all need to remember to pause before reacting. Whether it is counting to 10 before responding angrily or allowing 10 seconds to be sad and then moving on, taking time to feel is important. Allow your kids to fully feel and express, then inspire them to drop it and move on. This is another life skill that will take them far.
Enjoy the outdoors
Even if it is just 5 minutes in the backyard, stepping barefoot in the grass, and breathing the fresh air, it can have a wondrous effect on your children’s body. Don’t sleep on sunlight either. Exposure can release serotonin which boosts moods, relaxes, and even helps with focus. If you live in a place that doesn’t always have sunshine, try investing in a red light therapy system, which has similar effects.
A child doesn’t need a strict workout routine, but they will benefit from learning to exercise regularly. Getting a sweat in boosts endorphins, which make you happy. Maybe it is playing tag out on the lawn or a family walk around the neighborhood. There are also sites like GoNoodle that encourage fun ways for kiddos to release energy.
Sure you can do all of the above and then some to help manage your children’s stress levels; however, if you yourself are anxious and over-scheduled, your children will feel the brunt of it and learn from that behavior. Studies have shown that your adult stress trickles into your family’s lives, including your children, so be sure to keep yourself in check, too. Of course stressful situations will come about, but do your best to use those as learning moments. If you mess up and a less than perfect version of yourself comes out – no big deal. Address it and use it as a teachable moment with your kids.We are all human and mistakes as well as stressful situations will come about. It’s what we do in those moments after that matter!