As today’s world goes around, thousands of little things poke, prod, urge and demand that you respond, react or retaliate. And after a while – not too long really – one gets stressed. Doesn’t matter if the stress is good stress or not, or if you are an adult or a child – stress is stress! But when you are an adult, it is likely that you have created strategies to deal with your stress. Your children are knew at this and need your help.
The first order of business when dealing with a child who is stressed is being able to define that they are stressed to them. Putting a label on the feeling and why it is happening will help them recognize when it happens again. It may also give them some relief knowing what they are feeling is a normal reaction to stress and there are healthy ways to handle it.
Here are some tips that will help you talk to your child or teen about stress when they are stressed:
Listen to what your child is saying to you when they talk. Stop doing what you are doing and pay attention. After listening to their entire point, let them know that you have heard them by acknowledging what they have said.
Then say, “I see this is making you frustrated. (upset/angry/worried) How about you relax(take a bath/go for a walk/play basketball) a bit first and then we can talk about it more?”
Now, you can offer to go for a walk or play an active game with them too. Have them do something that will bring down their stress levels. Then, talk about how the situation is causing stress for your child, and you are glad they were able to handle the stress in a healthy fashion. At that time, continue to talk about the situation.
Talk to teens about the stress of being too busy:
Teens can get themselves in the situation of being way too busy all too often. This is a big stressor for them and handling it only adds to their ‘things to do’ list. But handle it they must, so being less stressed about it, even if it takes a little time, will help them handle it in a way that is more productive.
You can say something like, “I can see that you are worried about getting this all done. I think if you do something to bring down your stress, it will be easier to handle. Would you like to (listen to calm music/ go for a walk/take a hot shower)?” After they de-stress, ask if there is anything on their list where you can help.
Note: If your teen doesn’t take you up on the de-stress activity, let it slide. Let it be their choice whether to be stressed out or not. Do not add to their stress by making it mandatory. There will be a next time. Do de-stressing activities and talk about having healthy stress levels when they aren’t overly busy.
Talk about stress as a family:
- Mention it when you are doing something active. A family hike or swimming in the ocean are great at keeping stress levels down. Say so to your kids and spouse when you are doing the activity. You and your family will remember it when they are looking to find stress relieving activities.
- Talk about stress reducing during a family meeting. Maybe bring a CD of soothing sounds that can help you sleep and see if your kids want to try it.
- Has the whole family had a tough day? Do some relaxing breathing at the dinner table together. Make this a habit for your whole family.
Talking about stress when something is going wrong:
If your child or teen is experiencing symptoms of stress, like being unable to go to sleep or having stomachaches, you will need to focus on finding a solution. First and foremost, all physical illness needs to be checked out by their doctor if it continues to be a problem more than one time.
If your child isn’t sleeping, ask your child what they feel is the reason they aren’t sleeping. What are they thinking about when they close their eyes? Talking it through with you will help some, but the worry and stress will still be there. This is a good time to pull out a soothing CD to help them get their mind off of the problem so your child or teen can get some rest.
Be sure your child and teen understand when you talk to them that stress can cause physical issues, which is the reason you want them to learn how to handle stress in a way that is healthy. Read the problems stress can cause to them from an outside source, so they know it isn’t just mom and dad who think so. the more your child understands that stress can be handled and how to do it, the more they will learn to do so and be less stressed.