Let me start by saying that I am no professional. I am just a mother of four little, awesome kids who are super sensitive. I am going to give you some insight into what I have found works for my family and the best stress relief for kids.
First and foremost, you cannot successfully teach a child how to deal with stress when you are a ball of stress yourself.
We know that kids learn the most by watching their parents. So, practice good self-care and they will learn their self-care from you! Make time to practice self-care with them, let them see you doing things that make you feel better.
Pay attention to cues that they are stressed.
You can tell if your child is dealing with stress when they start to act out. They may cry and get angry over something small which is a clear sign. They may start to withdraw and not speak to you. This can be a little harder to spot at first. They may have issues sleeping or start to have accidents. Each child is different and unique, and they will show you in their own way.
You know your child best and you will notice something is off if you pay attention. It is also extremely important to help your child learn to listen and pay attention to their own cues. Point out what you are seeing in them and help teach them to identify what may be the cause of their stress, age appropriately of course!
Start something new with them to help relieve stress
Maybe you can start a stretching and breathing routine with them. Whatever ideas you can come up with that will be something easy to implement and works for your life. I know that my daughter specifically was having a really hard time with life in general. She was having issues at school and at home. I decided to start incorporating some “Spa Days” in which we would put on face masks and rub our feet with some lotion and her stress seemed to melt away.
Another thing that my family loves to do if we are having a stressful day is to have a dance party. We turn the music up loud and dance our worries away! You will find that when you incorporate these things together into your day, they will be so excited, and the results will amaze you.
Make sure that they are getting enough sleep.
You can do some research to find out exactly how much sleep is necessary for your child. A general rule is that toddlers need roughly 12 hours of sleep per night; children ages 3 to 6 need between 10 and12 hours of sleep per night; children ages 7 to 12 need around 10 hours and teenagers need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
Again, every child is different, and it is best to consult your pediatrician with any questions you may have regarding sleep and overall wellbeing. Good sleep is crucial to stress relief for kids.
Play is a stress relief for kids!
One hugely looked over factor is play. Children’s brains are hard-wired to deal with stressful situations by working them out in play. Dramatic play is a great way to help children work out real-life situations. Dramatic play is another term for “dress – up” or “playing pretend”. Have you ever noticed your child playing pretend house? Sometimes if you listen to how they are playing you will see that they will play out real-life scenarios such as going to the doctor or their mother having a baby. This is an awesome tool for helping children work out their feelings.
Social stories are another great way to help your child. A social story is when you read a story about how a character dealt with an emotional situation. This is a great way for children to see emotions played out on paper. It helps them to learn to identify their own emotions and see how characters found solutions.
Sometimes you will find that just getting kids outside in some fresh air to run around and burn off some steam does the trick as well! They can calm themselves down and relieve their stress just by being active! Kids are so amazing!
Help your child to identify their feelings.
Sometimes the best way to help a child through a stressful situation is just to identify it and put a word to the feeling. Kids can get so overwhelmed with not being able to communicate! Have you ever seen a toddler who can not speak yet begin to get frustrated that they can’t communicate what they need to you? The same goes for their emotional communication.
Children have a hard time expressing themselves. One of the best things that you can do as a parent is to help show them successful emotional communication and teach them how to practice this in their own vocabulary, regularly. Successful emotional communication will not only be an amazing stress relief for kids, but it will help them to identify with others on an emotional level which we know is a very precious skill.
Don’t over schedule them as it can be overwhelming.
I know that as parents we want our child to take part in every extracurricular activity that they want to partake in. I know we are trying to provide the best life, a life that is full and exciting for them while teaching them hard work, teamwork, and perseverance. You know your child best, you know what they can handle and if you pay attention to their cues, you will know when it is too much for them.
I have twin boys and they wanted to play football. My family is a huge football family, so we signed them up. At first, they were thrilled to go. They had practice 5 days a week during the summer for two hours a day and then 3 days a week when school started. They began to show me signs that they were overwhelmed. This fatigue and stress started to pour over into school. I was just trying to make it through the season which wasn’t that much longer! Well, now this year, they are very hesitant to play football again despite their love for it.
What did I learn from this? I thought I was doing what was right for them. Football is not a bad thing for kids, there are risks, as with any sport, but there are amazing benefits as well. I think that MY kids were too young for this experience. They require a lot of sleep, they always have. Despite my best intentions to teach them perseverance and help them see things through, I failed to honor that they were overwhelmed, and I totally over scheduled them.
Be honest with your kids and they’ll be honest about their feelings.
I had to do this with my twins. I had to explain that I had made a mistake and that I was sorry for not recognizing when it was too much for them. This may seem silly to some people but to show them honesty helps children to feel like they can be honest with you.
Kids will view your honesty as something good and they will follow suit. Also, kids will surprise you when they start to truly be honest with you about how they are feeling. This will help them to view you as their safe place. They will know that they can confide in you and trust that you will carry them through anything. Having a safe place is essential to stress relief for kids.
Especially in these uncertain times, honesty is the best policy. Help your kids to understand what is happening. They can confide their fears in you, and you can help to work through the stress that they feel. These types of conversations tend to strengthen your relationship with them, and you will treasure these little talks.
Teach them to successfully deal with failures.
Another lesson we learned from football was that sometimes we lose. Sometimes we don’t do our best and sometimes we fail. As adults, we still haven’t mastered dealing with failures. My best advice in this area is to teach your kids what works for you! I know that for my family, we have to acknowledge the failure. We have to recognize where we went wrong, implement a plan to be more successful next time, and then moveeee onnnnn.
The hardest part of dealing with failure is to pick yourself back up again. A child who can accept their failure is the best stress relief for kids. They do not have to be wrapped up in where they went wrong. They can make a plan of action, implement a solution, and then pick themselves back up again.
Being a parent is a very rough job. We are always bogged down with trying to carry our family. If we can find a way to have a little victory in this area, the lifelong skills that you will teach your children will help to make the world a brighter and less stressful place. Remember to invest in yourself. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Learn and grow with your kids! You really don’t have to have all their answers, no matter what you are their superhero. So, wear that title proudly. Stay safe and stay blessed!
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