Friday, May 15, 2015

Taming the Stress Monster ~ Helping Children Manage Stress

Remember the Boogie Man? --That menacing phantom lurking in closets and under beds, robbing countless children of much needed sleep.  As the school year winds down, standardized tests, end-of-year projects, and increased academic and social demands all give birth to the insidious "Stress Monster" who terrorizes both day and night.  Our children are far busier than we were growing up. In every area of their lives, the expectations are consistently high. The emotional and physical demands are only compounded by the difficulties children encounter maintaining friendships and navigating a changing social scene. Like us, our children have their own life journeys, filled with triumphs and challenges. Stress will undoubtedly be a recurring part of it. Knowing how to tame that nasty Stress Monster will serve them well throughout their lives.
Tips for helping children manage stress:

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Children need nutrient rich diets, 9-12 hours of sleep, and regular exercise to fuel their young bodies for the challenges of each school day. Many studies have shown that lack of sleep and poor nutrition can directly affect academic performance, mood and stress level. Regular exercise provides an outlet for negative emotions. Some studies suggest that it even causes stress fighting physiological changes in the body.

Improve organization. If the source of your child’s stress is homework, consider her organizational tools. Disorganization fuels stress. Are homework assignments logged in an agenda regularly? Are papers maintained in an organized binder or accordion file? Does she follow a daily routine? Consult your child's teacher for strategies if homework seems overwhelming or difficult.

Choose extra-curricular activities wisely. Be certain that your child has regular "down time" in his schedule. Children are happier, more relaxed and less stressed when activities are limited.

Teach relaxation techniques. Prayer, yoga, meditation and breathing exercises are all effective stress reducing techniques. Find the activities that work best for your child and encourage regular practice.

Take care of yourself! The very best way to help your child manage stress is to role model healthy strategies in your own life.
Learning to manage stress is an important skill for the entire family!

~Sheila Adams Gardner, Esq.              

Copyright©2015 Gardener Parenting Consultants, LLC.

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