Tips to Help Families Deal with Stress
We are all dealing with increased levels of stress in both our professional and family lives. Our children experience our stress as well as their own. Here are some tips to help your children, and the entire family, cope with stress more effectively.
1. Create daily, quiet moments with each child. Offer time to talk about how things are going, to ask, tell, discuss and listen. A few quiet minutes for airing little worries can prevent them from growing into big ones.
2. Listen to your child when he or she is ready to talk. Try to stop what you are doing at the moment and engage with him or her. If it's not a good time, schedule a date for an hour later. Avoid trying to always fix problems, just listening is powerful.
3. As a family, share ways that you effectively deal with stress. Let your child know that you feel stress and that you can cope with it. This is reassuring and is effective modeling.
4. Be mindful of your own negative reactions to stress (e.g. shouting, drinking, smoking, slamming doors, isolation). Intentionally or not we teach by example. When you’re tense, try a walk, talking things over, or taking deep breaths.
5. Encourage drawing, storytelling, creative play and physical activities that are healthy, readily available ways to discharge anxiety. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress.
6. Talk about stressors in the family rather than trying to hide them. Even when you think children don't understand the stressors in your life, they can sense them. It’s not necessary, nor fair, nor wise to share all adult problems with kids, but they probably sense when things are not right. Offer reassurance when you can and create an environment in which it’s ok to ask questions.
7. Share perspective. Remind children that although they may be having a really bad hour, or a really hard morning, somewhere in this day some nice things will happen too. At the dinner table, ask each person to offer a positive or highlight of his/her day.
If your child is having great difficulty dealing with stress please contact your school Prevention Specialist. We are here to help!
Scottsdale Prevention Institute