Helping Kids Cope with Stress - Part 2
Help your child think of things to do. If there’s a specific problem that’s causing stress, talk together about what to do. Encourage your child to think of a couple of ideas. You can get the brainstorm started if necessary, but don’t do all the work. Your child’s active participation will build confidence. Support the good ideas and add to them as needed. Ask, "How do you think this will work?"
Listen and move on. Sometimes talking and listening and feeling understood is all that’s needed to help a child’s frustrations begin to melt away. Afterwards, try changing the subject and moving on to something more positive and relaxing. Help your child think of something to do to feel better. Don’t give the problem more attention than it deserves.
Limit stress where possible. If certain situations are causing stress, see if there are ways to change things. For instance, if too many after-school activities consistently cause homework stress, it might be necessary to limit activities to leave time and energy for homework.
Just be there. Kids don’t always feel like talking about what’s bothering them. Sometimes that’s OK. Let your kids know you’ll be there when they do feel like talking. Even when kids don’t want to talk, they usually don’t want parents to leave them alone. You can help your child feel better just by being there — keeping him or her company, spending time together. So if you notice that your child seems to be down in the dumps, stressed, or having a bad day — but doesn’t feel like talking — initiate something you can do together. Take a walk, watch a movie, shoot some hoops, or bake some cookies. Isn’t it nice to know that your presence really counts?
Be patient. As a parent, it hurts to see your child unhappy or stressed. But try to resist the urge to fix every problem. Instead, focus on helping your child, slowly but surely, grow into a good problem-solver — a kid who knows how to roll with life’s ups and downs, put feelings into words, calm down when needed, and bounce back to try again.
Parents can’t solve every problem as kids go through life. But by teaching healthy coping strategies, you'll prepare your kids to manage the stresses that come in the future.
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