We’ve all been there. You are in line at the grocery store and your child sees something they must have. When I say must have, I mean right now. It could be candy or a toy. Whatever it is, doesn’t matter. Your child is making a scene and you are feeling embarrassed.
Learn the importance of reducing stress in a child.
You wonder, where did this come from? Why is my child being so emotional right now? You tell your child to calm down. But, they don’t listen. People are starting to look, and you feel like the worst parent around.
You aren’t alone, all parents have gone through this. This could be a sign of stress. It’s important that you understand where your child is developmentally. (BTW, it’s alright to say no) Regardless, of where they are developmentally. Don't underestimate the importance of reducing stress in your child
As a parent the best thing you can do is remain calm in an incident like this. Remember to breathe, this too shall pass. Children have a range of feelings, and that is alright. What’s important is that you help them understand their feelings. This will help them as an adult. We have found in counseling, when you don’t express your feelings you tend to stay stuck.
Here are 7 strategies for reducing stress in a child:
- Make time to relax. Are you always on the go? If you answered yes, then you are like most Americans. It’s important to slow down. This will not only help your child, but it will help you. You don’t have to get everything done today. There is always tomorrow. Stop trying to be superwoman and slow down. This is a great time to practice deep breathing with your child. Even if they fidget around, stick with it. Work up to 10 minutes a day.
- Use positive affirmations with your child. This can help counteract the stress. Have your child write a positive affirmation on a notecard. They can look at it during the day, when they are feeling stressed. It can be simple like, ‘I am relaxed,’ or ‘I am at peace.’ Make sure you practice this yourself. It will rub off on your child and set a good example.
- Stop overbooking your child. I see this all the time in my practice. A parent will call and say that their child has anxiety. After I meet with the child, I find out they are overbooked. Your child doesn’t have to play every sport or play multiple instruments. It’s alright if they don’t get straight A’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these things aren’t important. Just don’t overdo it. Make sure that you have scheduled time for fun and relaxation. They are just as important.
- Get moving. Just as you need exercise, so does your child. This can simply be walking. Children love to play. Take them to the park if you don’t have a backyard they can run around in. Make sure they have a P.E. class at school. When they get home from school, they can go for a bike ride or for a swim. Don’t let them get in front of the screen when they first get home. After a while, exercise will become a habit. Stress reduction with exercise is also fun.
- Take time to laugh together. It’s important that you are having fun with your child. This can simply mean laughing together. You can watch a funny movie or cartoon together. Ask your child if they know any jokes. You might be surprised by the answer. Life doesn't’ have to be that difficult. Make sure you set aside time for fun.
- Use prayer and meditation. This is a great way to reduce stress. Your child can do this alone, or you can do this together. Meditation is simply setting aside time to do nothing. If you’d like you can focus on a positive affirmation during this time. There are also many guided meditations that you can use. Prayer is also important. Make sure to state what you are thankful for and ask for what you need. This is also a great time to pray for others.
- Eat nutrient rich foods. Don’t let your child get loaded up on sugar and carbs. This can cause a variety of problems. They can have trouble focusing and they can also crash. Make sure to pay close attention to what ingredients are in the foods you are giving them. I know a cereal bar may be easier in the morning, but how much sugar is in it? Substitute some almond butter with a banana. Also, make sure your child is having enough water. You don’t want your child to get dehydrated. Give them a water bottle to take to school.
Unfortunately, we are hearing more and more about stress in children. There recess and lunch have been cut back, which means there is less time for play and running around. It’s also getting more and more competitive. They are measured by a test score. This can take its toll after a while.
Make sure to compliment your child and recognize when they are doing their best. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game. When you do this, your child will never measure up.
If you liked this article, then go to Raising Healthy, Happy Kids. There are more articles that will help you with raising a child.
Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping families in San Mateo, CA who are looking to have an emotional connection with their children. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on www.LessonsforLove.com to learn more about her services and expertise.