Strategies for helping a child cope with stress

19 November 2018

By Vidhya Shailesh, SoulKids® Program Manager

Stress in the workplace is something we all as adults are familiar with. We often assume stress to be a by-product of our work and its demands. However, what we fail to understand is that stress is essentially a by-product of our own thoughts. And just as it is common among adults, children too face stress in their growing up years.

The rigors of an academic expectation, keeping up with their activities, peer pressure, social troubles, friend problems, a change in the home/school environment can all contribute towards childhood stress. The factors might be academic, social or emotional but they can all cause struggles for children. Common indicators for stress among children include poor time-management, a very emotional child that cries at the smallest issue, children withdrawing socially, being sad/upset/anxious all of the time, performance in school/activities deteriorating, increased negative self-talk, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, refusal to go to school and many others.

At the first indication of any such behavioral changes, it is necessary that as parents/ care givers we step in to help and guide the children through the issue. Parents and teachers are the first ones to observe any changes in the children’s behavior. And when we do, we must step in to guide them through it rather than just wait for it to sort out itself.

Here are a few strategies to help children through stress.

1. Ensure children are not overloaded.

As parents, sometimes we believe we must keep children busy. While this is productive, you must observe your own children and understand what their capacity is. If you find your child struggling to manage everything, cut down on their activities. Help them pick and choose and ensure they have sufficient time in between. For older children, ensure that time is sufficient for them to catch up on their work and be on top of things. Over worked children lack enthusiasm and excitement and often everything becomes just a chore that they need to complete. Instead pick what they really enjoy and help them give their hundred percent. You will find their productivity increases and they are happier.

2. Speak to children often

Make sure you speak to them every day about the happenings at school. Let them come to you even with mundane happenings of the day. It just sets the ground for open communication and gives them the feeling that they can approach you for anything. Make sure you do not judge their ideas or inputs. Respect their views as that gives them the feeling that you are always there for them. Try not to criticize or put them down. Give them positive feedback and encourage them to seek solutions. When they are stressed, they need to see you as the person who will have a calming effect on them. Be positive and open.

3. Practice simple relaxation techniques with them.

Encourage them to find what helps them de-stress. It could be a run in the park, a game of basketball, a board game, or even some simple breathing techniques. Children require free playtime on a regular basis either with friends or by themselves. Set aside sometime for them to play. Ensure they get sufficient sleep. Rest is just as important as activity.

4. Encourage them to stay positive

Stress often is a consequence of fear. And the first thing fear does is sends your thoughts on a negative spiral. Help them recognize this pattern and understand that no matter what happens they must try and stay positive and that will help them handle the situation better.

5. Do not shy away from seeking help

At home parents are the first support system for children. However, children spend lots of their time at school and with their friends. Connect with their friends and also the parent community. Teachers can play a very important role in a child’s growing up years and their inputs can be very valuable. Work alongside the teachers and school councilors to address any issues early on. Depending on the nature of the issue, external help can also be sought. The child’s wellbeing should be a priority.

SoulKids® coaching is a wonderful way to help children through any difficulties they might be facing. Coaching is done one-on-one and is based on a friendly and positive relationship between the child and their coach. SoulKids® coaches uses a variety of different strategies to help children deal with stress and overcome them in a positive manner. A coaching relationship is highly beneficial for a child and ensures any issues are caught and dealt with at an early stage. The child’s wellbeing and happiness is always the coach’s top priority.

To find out more about our programs and one-on-one coaching, please visit www.soulkids.org or email us at soulkids@soulcentre.org.

Register your children for our transformational programs or coaching sessions and help them create their own happiness and success.

Strategies for helping a child cope with stress

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