Ease Your Kid’s Stress
In the past, many remember their youth as a carefree time. Today, however, the pressure is on to achieve success early by filling schedules with extracurricular activities and heavy course loads. Teens’ stress levels often surge higher than adults during the school year. It doesn’t help when they are constantly interrupted by around-the-clock notifications on their phones. As a parent, you can’t erase their worries, but you can show them healthy ways to cope.
Here are some tips on how you as a parent can help:
Start with Empathy. It’s tempting to downplay your child’s worries in the hope that he/she will see that the world isn’t ending. However, listening will be more effective. Tell your child that you see he/she is upset, then instead of jumping in with advice, sit down and brainstorm possible solutions together, which gives your child a calming sense of control. This way, if you do eventually provide advice, your child will be more likely to feel that you’re on their team.
Help Find Perspective. Children/Teens are more prone to extreme thinking when under stress. Ask gentle, leading questions such as “Could it turn out more positively than you expect?” and “What might happen instead of what you fear?” This will teach your child to take a step back and view the situation more accurately from a different perspective.
Make Sleep a Priority. Reserve the half hour before bedtime for relaxing. This means no homework or phones in bed. Encourage your child to dim the lights, play soft music, or read – anything that can help your child disconnect from tech and prep for a night of peaceful slumber. Children, like adults, can deal better with stress when they are well-rested.
Teach Deep Breathing. Deep breathing slows the heart rate and relaxes tense muscles. Sit with your child and together inhale through your noses for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 1-2 seconds, then exhale slowly for five or more seconds. Repeat this process for 5 – 10 breaths. Practice this technique when your child is calm so that he/she can recall this method during moments of stress.
Create Space for Pure Fun. Support unscheduled activities like spontaneous get-together with friends, a random ‘80s or ‘90s sing-along in the kitchen, or even a hike. This will remind your child that not everything is about competition or excelling. This will also teach your child that not everything has to go according to a structured plan.