Let’s face it, stress is a part of life and it’s something that we all experience, but it’s especially tough for kids. So, you need to help your child handle stress, just like you help yourself.
As a parent, it can be heart-wrenching to see your little one feeling overwhelmed, but the good news is that there are ways to help them.
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks for nurturing emotional intelligence in kids and help them handle stress like a pro!
Understanding Stress in Kids
Stress can take a toll on kids just as much as it can on adults. Understanding what stress looks like in children and what causes it is essential.
Common stress triggers for kids include starting a new school, moving to a new neighborhood, changing family dynamics, worrying about grades, social pressures and bullying, grief over the loss of a loved one or pet, and anything that makes them uncomfortable or self-conscious. Approximately 35% of primary school children experience stress symptoms, so it is more common than we might think.
When kids are under stress, they may experience physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, nightmares, bedwetting, and trouble sleeping. They may also exhibit emotional symptoms like irritability, tearfulness, aggressiveness, new fears, anxiety, and even regression, such as a five-year-old suddenly wanting to wear diapers and crawl around.
10 Ways to Help Your Child Handle Stress
The Power of Emotional Intelligence to Help Your Child Handle Stress
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It’s a crucial skill that helps kids navigate their way through life and handle stress in a healthy way.
Kids with high emotional intelligence tend to be more resilient and better able to handle life’s ups and downs. You can help your child handle stress by teaching him how to develop his emotional intelligence. A few ways that you can do this are:
- Helping your child name his emotions as they happen. For example, “That boy just called me a name and now I feel sad.”
- Help your child handle stress by teaching your child to take responsibility for his own feelings and not blame someone else for them. This helps your child understand that he has power over how he feels, which means no one can make him feel anything. Help him say, “After you did that, I felt angry.” Not, “You made me feel angry.”
- Teaching your child that emotions are just emotions, they are not bad or good. They are just feelings. It is okay to be angry, sad, or disappointed. It is not better to be happy all the time. Happiness, sadness, anger, grief, disappointment–they are all part of life.
Teach Kids to Identify Their Feelings
As mentioned above, one of the best ways to help your child handle stress is to teach them how to identify their feelings. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and put words to their emotions. A great way to do this is through games. You can use emotional intelligence flashcards or even something a bit more sophisticated, like a board game that builds emotional intelligence.
You can also help them by asking open-ended questions and validating their feelings. For example, if your child says they’re feeling upset, you can say, “That sounds really tough. Can you tell me more about what’s going on?”
Encourage Physical Activities
Physical activity is a great way to help your child handle stress. Encourage your child to get plenty of exercise, whether it’s playing outside, taking a walk, or joining a sports team. Exercise is a natural mood-booster and helps relieve tension in the body, especially when its outdoors. Research shows many benefits to outdoor play and exercise, so whenever possible, get them outside in the wild woods!
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and focusing on the here and now, especially in our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, without judgement. Teach your child mindfulness techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. Children seem to operate at full speed all the time and teaching them to slow down and be more aware will help them better navigate stress.
Help your child handle stress through greater mindfulness and they will feel more relaxed and calm.
De-stress with Pets
A great way to help your child handle stress is with animals. I know, I know. Animals bring a whole other bag of responsibilities. But animals, especially dogs, are used brought in to VA hospitals to help veterans with PTSD, they are brought in to help cancer patients feel less depressed and lonely, and they are used with autistic children to help them with anxiety. So, even a small pet, such as a fancy rat, hamster, or guinea pig might help your child deal with everyday stressful situations.
Lead by Example
Kids learn best by example, so be a role model for your child by managing your own stress in a healthy way.
Show your child that it’s okay to take breaks, such as giving yourself a time out, and doing things that make you feel good. When kids see that their parents are healthily handling stress, they’re more likely to follow suit.
Help Your Child Handle Stress by Being Available
We all know that life is full of stress and challenges, and it’s impossible to protect our kids from all of them. However, by fostering their emotional intelligence and teaching them coping mechanisms, we can equip them with the skills they need to handle stress in a healthy and productive way.
One of the most important things you can do to help your child handle stress is to simply be there for them and listen to their concerns. Just because you can’t always solve their problems doesn’t mean you can’t be there to support them through tough times.
For example, when my daughter was struggling with stress and anxiety, I made it a point to have regular “check-ins” with her. I’d ask her how she was feeling and what was going on in her life, and then listen without judgment.
Just knowing that she had someone to talk to made a huge difference in her ability to cope with stress.
Help your child handle stress by identifying stress triggers
Another way to help your child handle stress is to encourage them to be proactive. Encourage them to identify their triggers and come up with their own solutions for managing stress. This can help them feel more in control and less overwhelmed. When they are feeling calm and relaxed, it can be helpful to brainstorm some good responses. You can even use “What would you do?” scenario cards to practice.
Be ready with a stress kit
One of my favorite activities for empowering kids to handle stress is having them create a “stress kit”.
This can be a physical kit or just a mental list of things that help them relax and cope. This can include anything from deep breathing exercises to listening to music, playing with a fidget toy, or taking a warm bath. The idea is to help your child find what works for them and have it readily available when they need it.
Promote self-care habits early!
When you help your child handle stress, it’s also important to teach your child about the benefits of self-care and healthy habits. Encourage them to exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get plenty of rest. These habits will not only help them manage stress but also improve their overall physical and mental well-being.
By teaching your child how to understand and manage their emotions, you’ll be giving them the tools they need to handle stress and lead a happy, healthy life. Remember, parenting is all about finding the right balance between being supportive and empowering your child to take control of their own life. With patience, persistence, and a little bit of humor, you’ll be well on your way to raising a confident, emotionally intelligent kid!