Children can experience stress and anxiety in the same ways adults do, although it doesn’t manifest the same. If a young kid is worried or overwhelmed, for example, they may become withdrawn or angry, rather than saying what’s troubling them. It’s not unusual for kids to display bad behavior when they’re stressed or anxious, which is why it’s important to consider what could be at the root cause if your kid seems to be acting out more often than usual.
Although stress is a natural part of life, there are ways to help your child manage their emotions. To get started, take a look at these top tips for helping your child with stress and anxiety:
Talk About Emotions
Talking freely and frequently about emotions helps kids to understand what they’re feeling. A young child may be unable to express a feeling that they’re unfamiliar with but talking about different emotions and how they can make you feel will help them to learn what various emotions actually feel like. This can make it easier for your kid to identify their feelings and share them with you, rather than bottling up their worries.
Model Positive Behavior
Taking care of our emotional well-being should always be a top priority but it’s easy to overlook the importance of stress management and relaxation when you’re a busy mom or dad. However, if your kid sees you taking care of your emotional health, they will learn to model this behavior. In fact, there are a variety of stress management techniques, such as meditation and mindfulness, that can be used to help kids too. By letting your kid see you practicing stress reduction techniques, and encouraging them to join in, you can teach them how important it is to take good care of their emotional health.
There are times when distraction can be an effective tool to relieve anxiety. If your child is nervous about going to school, for example, keeping them busy and occupied in the mornings can help to prevent them from overthinking things and getting worked up.
There are endless ways you can use distraction to help your kids stay calm, so try various options to find the ones that work best for your family. Kids toys and games are always a popular choice because they’re great at keeping children occupied and entertained. However, you can also try playing word games in the car or singing along to music.
Encourage a Positive Mindset
If your child is worried about a particular situation or environment, ask them to list three positive things that are associated with the same thing. This encourages them to think of the good things, without dismissing their worries. For young kids who are worried about going to school, for example, three ‘good things’ might be seeing your friends, getting to learn new things, and playing with different toys.
Don’t Expect Perfection
If kids feel under pressure to be perfect, it can lead to unnecessary worry and anxiety. Many kids who perform well at school still feel self-doubt or stress if they score 95 on a test, rather than 100, for example. Although every parent wants to support their kids and help them to achieve their potential, expecting perfection can actually have the opposite effect. Instead, celebrate your child’s achievements and the effort they put into things, rather than just the outcome.
Learn to Stay Calm
When your child is anxious or overwhelmed, it can be hard not to get frustrated with the situation yourself, particularly if you know the source of their anxiety doesn’t hold any real threat to their well-being. If you stay calm, however, it can help to reduce your child’s anxiety and bring a panic attack to a close more quickly so it’s important you do what you can to keep your cool. Helping your child to work through an intense period of anxiety until it passes will reinforce that this feeling can and will go away.
Managing Stress in Kids and Young People
Although there are many lifestyle changes you can use to help kids with stress or anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek help if you need to. A visit to your pediatrician or a counselor can help to determine whether there is an underlying cause for your child’s behavior and will enable you to access any assistance you need. What’s more — it will give you confidence and peace of mind that you’re doing everything you can to help your child become happy, healthy, and independent.