Is there a change you notice in your child? Are you concerned about her? You have always seen her happy but lately, she is cranky and irritable to the core. She spends hours on her homework assignment and does not want to participate in any activities. To top it up she is not sleeping well. Well, your child could be stressed and this worries you.
It is very easy for adults to talk that they are stressed, but little children who do not understand the meaning of stress also find it difficult to express the same. Children can get stressed when they want to perform well or win the race or just for the fact that they have had a tussle with their friend and are not getting along with them. They may worry about their near and dear ones especially parents or their pet. Sometimes when they lose a loved one children like adults can go into depression.
As adults, we find ways to unwind and cope with the stress in our lives. But what about our children? Firstly they don’t realise that they are under stress, secondly, they don’t know what to do about it. As responsible adults, we should teach our children to tackle and cope with stress. So how can we do this? How can we teach our toddlers and children to unwind and relax?
Teach them quick calming strategies: Teaching children some quick calming techniques help them cope with stress. Deep breathing exercises, or talking about their favourite activity helps. Ask your child to imagine that they are at their favourite place be it the hills, forest, a beach, the park they play at or that favourite corner in the house. Ask them to imagine what they feel, see and hear at their favourite place. This helps them to unwind and relax.
Be approachable: When children are under the weather, they look on to you for your love and support. They would try to seek your help in helping them steer out of their situation. However, children never speak up when it comes to their problems. In this case, you can ask them open-ended questions like how their day was and see what it leads to. If they are reluctant, you can ask them by writing where only you and your child are involved. You can kickstart a conversation about what is going on in their life and what is stressing them out. When children know that you are approachable they do open up.
Simplify their schedule: These days the children are CONSTANTLY on the go. Running from pillar to post has become the new norm. Children are so tired when they get back from an eight-hour school, but this fact is just overlooked and they are packed off to some activity class, then another and also after school classes. Phew… just the thought of this makes me cringe, how tired the little child may be by the end of the day. Sit down and talk to your child whether they are interested in that particular activity and would they like to continue. Minimising an activity or two can simply reduce their stress. Simplifying their schedule gives them some free time which is indeed a great stress reliever.
All work and no play is bad: There is a famous saying that all play and no work makes Jack a dull boy. Similarly, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy too. Playing games especially where physical activities are included helps to stimulate their tiny brains and body. Physical activity helps in the production of endorphins or happy hormones as these hormones help to uplift the mood. You can also connect with your child by playing some board games and other art and craft activities.
Make room for mistakes: With so much action in their lives, they are constantly under pressure and a fear that they would not be able to live up to their parent’s expectations. Let your child know that it is good to make mistakes since you learn from them and they make you a better person. When they know that they will not be pulled for making mistakes they are less stressed.
Being there for your child, preparing them for life, being able to talk to them at any given time, teaching them life skills, making them confident yet making them resilient so that they can make safe and smart choices is the best gift we can give to our child.