Helping Kids Deal With Stress
Filed Under (coping strategies, stress, Uncategorized)
   “My teacher is mean. It’s going to be a terrible year.”

“None of my friends are in my class.  I’m going to be alone.”

“I don’t think I took the right classes to get into college (4 years from now.)

 Like a tropical storm, the deluge of stressful thoughts made landfall as predicted in the first month of school.  Having weathered this storm before, I had prepared for the worst – namely the flash floods of emotions.

 Taking tips from trained rescue workers, I taped off my windows (eyes and ears) and sandbagged the house (locked myself in my room) to ride out the storm.  Ok, not really, running for cover was just what I wanted to do.

 Transitions such as the start of a new school year are stressful. According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, even positive events like marriage and vacations can significantly impact our stress levels.  Entering a new school year means that adjustments have to be made on multiple levels. Knowing this, though, does not necessarily prepare you to deal more effectively with the stress.

 In my experience, the best way to deal with stress is to stay focused in the present.  Think about it, is this moment right now stressful, or is it the worry about future and past moments that are stressful?  A past event is kept alive by our minds repeating a script.  ‘Can you believe she said that to me?!  I should have said……’ 

 Likewise, future events are created by our thoughts.  ‘What if……’  When our minds run in fast forward, we fear what may or may not happen and live it as if it is happening now.

 To help a child deal with past grievances we can pull her into the present with statements like:

  • What do you know now because of this event?
  • What can you do now to rectify or make peace with the situation?

If nothing can be changed by words or deeds, focus on forgiveness and detachment from the circumstance.  When we hold onto old regrets and grievances it’s like towing a huge suitcase behind us.  A waste of energy that steals from today.

To help a child deal with worries about the future:

  • Explain to her that only today is real.  The future does not exist yet.  Frequently we invent a future that is much more difficult than it turns out to be in reality.
  • Remind her of her own strength with examples of times she has handled difficult situations with courage and wisdom.  Those assets are hers and will serve her in dealing with any challenges that arise.

Lastly, a helpful practice is the formation of a Stress-Buster list.  Help your child to compose a list of stress relieving strategies.  Keep this list handy for access when needed.  Here are some suggestions to get you started: 

Stress Buster List for Kids

  • Listen to loud music
  • Dance
  • Play, play, play
  • Talk it out, cry it out, laugh it out
  • Take a bath
  • Look at baby photos or videos
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