Feeling stressed? Parents are no strangers to stress. We breathe it. We live it. But have you noticed that our children can get stressed, too? There’s school. There’s peer pressure. Then there’s the visit to the dentist or the doctor. There are so many things that can get to our kids.
I remember my boy when he was younger. He used to get frustrated easily when it came to his toys. He would try to do something and when it didn’t work out the way he wanted to, when he wanted it to, he would start making growling sounds. Sometimes, he would even end up throwing toys around.
What do you do when these things happen? Do you just let your child handle it alone and consider it a learning experience? Personally, I think that parents should step in and talk their children through stressful periods. Here are some ideas which can help.
Talk your child through it. When you know that something is stressing your child out, approach him/her and try to get him/her talking. Stress is always triggered by some issue, and the sooner you get to the bottom of that issue, the more you can deal with the stress. You can also help your child deal with his/her mental condition. Teach him/her to say positive phrases in his/her mind and repeat them over and over again. Examples would be “Calm down,” or “I can handle this.” Whatever phrase you think will work for your child, emphasize that.
Teach your child breathing techniques. These work for adults, why not for children, too? When I was going through a particularly stressful episode, a yogi friend taught me a couple of breathing techniques. The simplest – and yet quite effective – one is to just take deep and long breaths. You just need to focus and do it slowly. You also have to count (at least up to 3) while inhaling and exhaling. After several repetitions, you feel yourself calming down. A twist to this is to inhale through your mouth with your tongue twisted (this may not be possible for those who are not genetically able to twist their tongues). The idea is that the air going in is cooled, by the tongue; and this supposedly has a more calming effect. I have been doing this a lot and it helps!
Make a “stress box” with your child. Get an old shoe box (or if you want, buy one of those nice storage boxes from the mall) and fill it up with little things that make your child happy. Stress balls, Play-Doh, a coloring book – whatever calms your child down. Make it a point to always go to the stress box when your child starts getting stressed. Pretty soon, he/she will be going to it on his/her own.
Any other ideas on how to teach your child to handle stress?