How to Help Kids Handle Stress
By Sandy Schroeder
Is stress building at your house as the holidays approach? Sometimes kids and parents can set each other off with individual stress sparks. Then there may be mutual meltdowns. Keeping the holidays balanced is easier when we slow down and take the time to talk through the issues that come up.
Here are some tips from the Scientific American staff on how to ease the stress.
Make time to talk – If your child seems more stressed or quieter than usual, make time to sit and talk. As holidays pick up speed, it can be all too easy to plan to talk later. Better to spend a little time sorting everything out before issues grow. Also, taking time to track school schedules and events to make sure everything is working can be a way of spotting problems. The more informed you are the less likely you will be surprised by unexpected problems. Stay connected.
Maintain a comfortable home – Get everyone to pitch in to keep your home clean and free of debris. An inviting environment can lower stress for parents and kids. When there is too much going on, clutter can build. Psychologists say clutter can be one more stressful impact that weighs on us. In contrast, a serene spot helps everyone relax.
Keep everything healthy – When stressful periods build, balance everything with healthy meals, regular bedtimes and time to play. Falling into a cycle of fast food, video games, too much TV and late nights can create just the opposite effect, accelerating irritability and needless tension.
Sit down to dinner – As often as possible make family dinners a regular happening, giving everyone a chance to talk. That gives kids a chance to speak up if problems are brewing, and it gives them a regular anchor point in the midst of all of the holiday commotion.
Create some natural breaks – Taking weekends off to sleep late or just loaf a little can help kids ease up from classes, projects and reports. At the same time, parents can enjoy a little rest, too. Give everyone a chance to choose their favorite activities. Biking to the park, going to the movies, or getting ice cream may be a good way to wind down from a busy week.
Take time to breathe – Focused breathing is a simple but highly effective stress reliever. Use abdominal breathing anytime anywhere to increase the supply of oxygen to the brain, instilling calmness. As you quiet your mind and become more connected to your body, everything may become easier. Encourage your family to just stop and breathe when things get too hectic.
Overall, watch for signs of stress and make the time to deal with them when they happen.
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