Stress Management For Children
Stress management for children is really important nowadays. As we have seen in the article on children and stress , there are more and more stresses our children have to cope with.
But what can they do to relive this stress?
More importantly what can you do as a parent to help them?
This is article is mainly aimed at pre-teens but I do feel a lot of these techniques work with teens as well.
Stress can be managed with children. What it requires is patience, perseverance and some of the following tips.
Tips and Techniques
So in terms of stress management for children what tips and techniques are available?
Tip # 1: Discipline
When it comes to stress management for children I believe from my own experience that discipline and boundaries are some of the most important for reducing stress in the long term.
I start with discipline because I see that most parents struggle with this. I feel that most parents nowadays find it hard to have boundaries or discipline with their children.
I believe this has arisen from the fact that corporal punishment and discipline were the “in” thing a few years ago. And many of today’s parents were subjected to this type of “discipline”.
Maybe what we’re seeing now is a backlash against this type of punishment.
For me, this corporal style of discipline doesn’t work. By doing this you teach the child it is okay to hit, that violence is okay. This is not the message that we want to be teaching our children.
But due to this bad experience with discipline most parents that I see nowadays have little boundaries with their child.
What do we mean by this?
Tip # 2: Boundaries
Having boundaries means having an acceptable limit on a child’s behavior. And if they cross this they will be disciplined.
For example, a child is kicking the table. “Please stop that Jonny,” you ask. They do it again. “Please stop,” I said. They do it again. “If you do that again you will have to sit on the step.” They do it again so you make them sit on the step.
This for me is discipline. It is so simple but it teaches the child several really important things:
1. There are boundaries, causes for their actions.
2. That you are trustworthy. When you say you're going to do something you do.
3. They can then just be children and relax - they feel safe.
4. When you say something, you mean it, and therefore you are to be respected because you keep your word.
The first time you do this and carry out the discipline, the child will kick and scream. They will shout and curse. They have been used to being in charge.
But it is so important to leave them on the step or be firm; let them calm down themselves.
And when they have calmed down, go to the child and complete. What I used to do was say. “How do you feel?” They would usually say, “I feel sad”.
And I would point out that they feel sad because they didn’t listen to what was said. They are sad because of something they did rather than what someone else did to them.
I feel that this empowers them, for you are showing them that you are not making them sad, but they are. And when they see this and understand this, they change.
And afterwards I would always hug them, congratulate them for understanding the message and show them it was finished. And sometimes they would cry and I would always allow them this space in silence.
Tip # 3: The Child is not in Charge
What I see nowadays is that the child, rather than the parent is in charge. Parents don’t want to discipline or are frightened of carrying it through. The child knows this and takes advantage. They play every game in the book to stay in charge!
But by having a simple discipline routine in place, you take charge again. This not only reduces your own stress but reduces the stress of the child in the long run (not necessarily to start off with).
Having someone in charge makes the child feel safe. The child will stop playing up, they feel secure. I have seen this first hand and it works. This really helps with stress management for children.
Tip # 4: Carrying Out What You Say
If you say, “If you do that again you have to sit on the step,” carry it out. I see this is a common mistake parents make. They don’t carry out they say.
There is no clear boundary. And this is confusing for the child. Make it clear for them.
And by carrying out what you say, you will start to gain self respect. You will learn strength and respect from others and from your children, and this will reduce your own stress tremendously.
Tip # 5: Getting Outside and Being Physical
Another really important stress management for children technique is allowing them to get outside.
Children love being outside. It exercises them, nourishes their lungs and limbs, and they have such fun.
So get them to turn off the TV, have TV and computer-free days where you all go outside. And I mean you, the parents, as well!
Go for walks in the woods, go to feed the ducks or climb trees. Teach them to cycle or play sports. It not only nourishes them, it nourishes you as well!
Tip # 6: Fill Them With Nourishing Thoughts
One of the main things that I feel helped to settle the children I looked after was through the use of their imagination.
Each night I would make up a story about wizards, magic potions and amazing jewels. And I would weave positive and empowering techniques into the stories: getting them to breathe deeply, to use their imagination to relax and unwind, use their thoughts to empower themselves.
I did create these stories into CDs which I would then play for the children when I didn't have time to read. And what happened? They loved the stories and practically every night without fail they would fall asleep during the story.
I have not been able to produce these stories professionally but I do recommend the following company who has produced similar products.
Lite Books have produced several stories along the same lines as what I have created. They are said to be a great stress management for children tool.
I personally found playing CDs to the children at bedtime a wonderful stress management for children technique because:
1. Firstly, the children started to love going to bed. It was never a chore - they wanted to hear another story - and as you know with children they liked to listen to the same story over and over again!
2. Secondly, the CDs used to always send the children to sleep. Before I started working for 3 children in particular the children would go to bed when they felt like it and this would add stress to the mother. But with the CDs the children fell straight to sleep leaving the mother and me time to unwind, relax and de-stress ourselves.
I feel it is not only a worthwhile investment for the children's development but also for the parents levels of stress!
So I hope that these stress management for children techniques help you to reduce the level of stress in your child’s life and that they start to flower and blossom.
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