When we adults think back about our childhood, we typically remember it as a fun and carefree time of our lives. While this is true in most cases, childhood often comes along with its own set of stress. For children, school and their newly sprouting social life can be a big source of stress. In some cases, home environment can also add to it.
As a parent, you cannot shield your child completely from stress. But you can be the cushion for them to fall back on when they feel stressed and overwhelmed. They can learn from you various healthy ways of coping with stress.
It is important to understand that kids handle stress in ways that can be healthy and unhealthy. Although you might not hear them complaining about it or vocalizing their issues, having a parent reach out when they are getting stressed out can make a world of difference. You will not only share effective and healthy stress management techniques but also set an early example of how one should respond under stress.
However, it is never easy for parents to be this person and help out their children. You may not know what to do when a child is stressed. Here are some tips that can help.
1. Let them know that you notice
When you see your child is bothered by something, mention it to them. If possible, name the emotion and feeling they are experiencing such as ‘It looks like you are angry about what happened at school’. But be careful and do not make it sound like you are accusing them or putting him or her on a spot. By being sympathetic and caring, you will let your child understand that you are genuinely concerned about them.
2. Listen to what they say
Have a conversation with them, ask them what happened and what went wrong. Be attentive, calm, patient, and caring. Do not think about what he or she should have done or said, and avoid being judgemental. Skip the lecture. To help children manage stress, you need to hear them out, and let them talk about their feelings. Do not rush to a conclusion. Allow them to take as much time as they need.
3. Briefly comment on the emotions you think your child is experiencing
Saying things like “that must have upset you” or “no doubt you feel left out and sad” helps them realise that you understand what they are going through. If your child feels heard, understood, and supported by you when they are feeling stressed is extremely crucial for effective stress management.
4. Limit stress wherever possible
If you notice that certain aspects of their social life are stressing them out, try to analyze it. At times too many co-curricular activities along with schoolwork can stress kids out. Talk to them about it and eliminate any such situations if possible.
5. Don’t try to fix it for them, just be there
Seeing their kids struggle is the last thing any parent would want. In most situations, they jump on the wagon and try to fix every problem. While this might work out in some situations, it might not be beneficial when it comes to helping stressed-out kids. Instead, just be there for them, and be patient. Show them the ways to manage stress.
Although experiencing stress is inevitable, at Samsidh, we work with the best team of educators to create a stress-free environment where your child can thrive. While as parents you cannot solve every problem that your kid might be facing, you can teach them healthy coping strategies and prepare them for life.