As adults, we sometimes forget what it was like to be a child. We tend to only remember the fun times and being care-free. Well, what about those times when we were stressed or anxious? Unfortunately, even children can have stress and anxiety, and this is something parents need to keep in mind. The related causes can be simple everyday things, such as school and social life. For instance, the after-school soccer practices, karate and dance classes may be too overwhelming.
While adults like to talk about their problems, kids usually do not like to share with friends and family. This can make it harder as they may feel alone, isolated and defeated. That is why we have listed 5 ways you can help them develop healthy habits to cope with these unnoticed stresses and solve everyday problems that may arise.
How to help your child cope with success:
Start a dialogue: Tell your child when you observe actions or feelings that show they are bothered. Name the exact feeling or action that they are experiencing. For example, “it seems like you’re still upset about your soccer game”. It’s important that you deliver this in a calm and casual tone, so that it doesn’t come across as an accusation where your child is put on the spot, causing even more stress. By being sympathetic and showing that you care, it will be easier for your child to communicate their feelings. It is also important where this dialogue takes place, as your child may not want to talk to you face-to-face. So try talking in the car instead, where your child still has their own space.
Simplify their schedule: We live in a very competitive world, and as parents we only wish the best for our children. While the piano lessons, soccer practices and karate sound great, it may not be the case for your child. The fact that your child feels the pressure to constantly do something may be tiring them. Talk with them about their schedule. Do they still like all their activities? Is there something they would like to stop doing? Cutting down to one or two activities a week would reduce stress and allow them to spend time doing the things they want to do. It’s important that you allow your child to experiment spending time on different things in order for them to find their own interests.
Be there for your child: Kids don’t always feel like talking about their problems, and that’s OK. Let them figure out their own solution, just let them know you are always there in case. Even when kids don’t want to talk, knowing that they can count on you can be a great motivation. This can be done by spending time with them, keeping them company when they are doing things that interest them (such as watching them play video games), or simply taking a walk. This will create a bond between the two of you which will let your child know they can always approach you if they want to. So the next time you notice your child upset, stressed or bothered, initiate an activity that you can do together.
Teach them coping strategies: You cannot always be there when your child feels stressed, thus it is important they learn to cope on their own. You should teach some quick strategies they can perform in the moment to calm down. Some examples are taking a deep breath, imagining being in a different place they are comfortable with or picking a number to change their focus. Help them practice these strategies on a regular basis so they can be prepared when you are not there.
Model healthy coping strategies: As a parent, you are the most important teacher for your child. They watch and observe your every behaviour and response when problems arise. Thus, you need to model good, healthy coping strategies your child can copy. The next time you use a positive coping skill, share it with your child. Acknowledging it out loud can help, such as “I am stressed right now, and need a break. I am going to play the piano for 10 minutes”. There will always be stress, its about how you manage it. The earlier your child can learn healthy coping skills, the bigger their repertoire of coping skills will be. With a good set of strategies, they can tackle stressful situations successfully.