While it may seem difficult to believe, one of the most common parenting issues facing both parents and kids today is the subject of kid related stress. Studies indicate that today’s kids are experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before as a result of increased academic pressure and numerous extra-curricular activities. So, what can you do to help your child make it through this difficult time and learn to effectively deal with stress?
The most important factor you should recognize when working to help your child deal with stress is that although kids do not face the same stressors as adult, they can still feel extreme amounts of stress. Therefore, it is important not to discount what they are feeling. Instead, take the time to talk and list to your child. Many times, kids don’t know how to express what they are feeling. They only know they feel ‘bad.’ Encourage them to talk about what they are feeling by asking questions. Listen and exhibit calmness and interest as well as patience in what your child is telling you.
Work to help your child put a label on what they are feeling. Kids usually can’t say they are feeling frustrated or angry. While the process may take some time, it is extremely important to help your child put their feelings into words. This is an important part of learning to deal with emotional stress as well as developing emotionally. Children, like adults, who are able to communicate with words are less likely to express their emotions through violence or inappropriate behavior.
Take the time to work with your child to find activities that can help him or her to reduce the amount of stress they are feeling. In some cases, merely talking over what they are feeling may be enough to help reduce their stress.
While communication is certainly important, you should also recognize that there may be times when your child won’t want to talk to about what is going on. Unfortunately, for parents this can at times be a part of parenting kids. In this case, you should not push your child to talk but do make a point to be there and spend time with your child. There is usually no need for concern as long as your child is not physically and socially withdrawing from family and friends for long periods of time. After all, everyone experiences times when they simply don’t feel like talking. Instead, look for ways you can spend time with your child to show you care. Take a walk together, bake cookies, watch a movie; but above all, be patient and let your child know you are always there for them.