As our children head back to school. We know that homework, family obligations, social activities, and peer pressure can add to the pile of stressful things in a child’s life. While everyone deals with a certain amount of stress in their lives, children need help to recognize and cope with stress.

Here are a few ways to help.

  • Offer a safe space to talk about every day happenings. Check in with your child to let them talk about the good and bad parts of their day.  A fun way to get the conversation started is to ask them for one “sweet” and one “sour” of the day.
  • Assist children in verbalizing feelings. Look for changes in a child’s mood or behavior and help them find positive ways to manage their emotions.
  • Be present. Sometimes children don’t want to talk and that’s okay. Just being available to offer support is enough.   
  • Talk about your own stress to let them know it’s normal to feel pressure and anxiety. Show them all the ways you deal with life’s challenges.
  • Exercise. No matter the age, exercise is a great way to help the body fight off the physical effects of stress.
  • Rest. Adequate sleep is important for everyone, but children always need a good night’s rest. 
  • Find creative outlets. Art, sports, drama and even a family game night are great ways to distract a child from worries and help them blow off some steam.
  • Breathe.  Sometimes children just need a break to sit, breathe, and regroup.

Remember some stress is good, especially when there is an exciting new challenge ahead.  Too much stress leads to bigger emotional and physical problems for children who aren’t equipped with coping skills. As a parent and adult, you can set the stage for success in the year to come by modeling healthy self-care habits and creating a safe space for honest communication.