How can you help a child cope with stress?

Everyone is subject to stress, even children are prone to stress. For children, it can be more difficult to deal with, as they are not equipped with coping mechanisms. Stress is difficult to handle and more so for children who may not understand why they are feeling the way they do. Children need help to overcome stressful situations and learn how to manage stress. Parents can help children with stress which will be useful for now and later life.

How can you help your child with stress?

Understanding stress

Children may not understand that they are feeling stressed, and be able to communicate this to you. Stress can be shown and felt in different ways. If your child seems troubled, take the time to consider what the problem could be. Observe your child and be understanding and caring while you decipher the reasons for your child’s frustrations. The reason for stress could seem minor to you, however, to your child it isn’t, as it is obviously causing turmoil.

Communicate

Your child may seem flustered, angry, agitated or generally irritable, which could seem geared towards you. However, it is important to understand that something is clearly bothering your child. When you realize this, it is up to you to put it into words for your child. Ask your child what is wrong and what is bothering her. Let your child know she is feeling unhappy and stressed. You may say, “I can see you are feeling stressed, can I help you?” Your child may not open up straight away and you may need to help her to work out the reason.

Handle with care

While talking to your child, realize that she is feeling fragile and stressed. Be gentle with your approach and treat the situation with care. Take as much time as needed to talk to your child, or just listen. She may just want to rant and reel off inane ramblings. This is fine, and can actually help her take a load off. To start, it may seem like what she is saying means nothing to you. However, listen attentively to let her know you care. Also, you may come to find the reasons for her stress by just listening to her.

Be supportive

It may not seem like a big deal to you, and it may seem easy to brush it off. However, whatever is causing your child stress is causing her turmoil. It is important to remember this and be supportive and caring. Your child needs to know that her feelings matter and that she has your support during this difficult time. Refrain from judging, or making throwaway comments. Rather let her know you understand and show empathy. Let her know you care and understand her frustrations.

Resolving the issue

Sometimes just you listening to your child can be all that is needed. She may feel better if you show some empathy and put into words her feelings. “I can see you are feeling stressed.” Putting a label on the feeling allows her to better understand why she is feeling the way she does. If you can see the stress is lifting and she is feeling better from talking, you can turn to something more positive. Direct the focus on something else and find an enjoyable activity to do together. Don’t dwell on the issue, once resolved move on and forget it.

Extra support

If your child is under a greater amount of stress and the issue isn’t resolved all that easily you may need to give extra support. Find the source of the stress with your child, and ask her how to best handle the situation. Don’t give her the answers, as this isn’t allowing her to problem solve. She needs to be able to figure out what to do and how to resolve the problem with your support and guidance. This is important, as it gives her the skills to resolve her problems.

Look at the schedule

Children are often overworked and over-scheduled. It may not seem that way, and many believe that children need to be kept busy. While this holds some truth, there also needs to be some balance. Children need free time and time to unwind. Feeling under pressure all the time can be very stressful to children. Your child’s schedule may need some tweaking with either making a few changes to reduce extracurricular activities, or simply adding in more fun activities. There could be too much for your child to juggle, or she may need something extra in her life.

Balance

Children are prone to stress in the same way that adults are. While it may seem that children have it easy and live a carefree life, this isn’t always true. Children are put under a lot of pressure and have many reasons to feel stress. Ensure your child has time to let off steam and relax as well as have time to be a child and have fun.

Stress can be a real problem for a child, but, a problem that can be resolved. With your help and support your child can get through troubling times while learning coping mechanisms. Be supportive, listen and take care over what you say. Listening is usually enough for most children. A sympathetic ear and a caring parent can make all the difference to a child that is struggling.