As a parent, childhood can seem like a carefree time filled with very little responsibilities and a whole lot of fun. However, with the added pressures of school, social life, peer pressure, and extra curricular activities, stress can quickly takeover your child’s life. As a parent, you cannot totally shield your child from every stressful situation in life, but you can provide the proper tools to help your child cope with stress and solve everyday problems that are directly related to stress.
Knowing what to do before the stress becomes unbearable is not always easy for a parent to figure out. Through the use of the word stress, we have come up with six active steps to help you as parents discover stressful situations and equip your child with coping mechanisms to reduce stress.
Stress Signals: Take active steps to notice stress in your child’s life and let your child know that you notice a possible problem. By acknowledging the stress, your child becomes aware of the stressors themselves and they will begin to open up conversation with you. Once conversation has begun, do not tell your child how they should feel in that situation. Rather, let your child explain to you how they are feeling because of the stress.
Truly listen: Take active steps to listen to your child when they are explaining how they are feeling. Listening attentively with patience, calm, and care allows the first wall of stress to break down before the situation can escalate. This means put the iphone down, turn off the television, and talk one-on-one with your child. This will signal to your child that you truly care about their well being and your child will open up to you more and more frequently. So often we as parents want to know how to talk to our children but we never take the time to listen.
Reaching through understanding: Feeling understood is what children want most. Childhood can be quite confusing and being understood goes a long way to good mental health. Tell your child that you understand what they are going through and tell them how you would have felt in the same situation. Empathize with them and let them know how YOU truly feel. This one step is crucial to building open communication and often gets overlooked.
Empower your children: Encourage your child to think of a couple ideas to better handle the stress they are under. Brainstorm with them, but allow your child to do most of the work. This empowers your child to form tools to begin coping with these types of stresses and problems if they were to reoccur.
Slowdown the stress: If certain situations are causing more stress, limit the amount of exposure your child has to that certain situation. Not all stress can be limited, but by limiting the ones that can be more easily controlled life in general will result in less stress for your child.
Stand with them: Be patient and try to resist the urge to fix all your child’s problems. Parents cannot solve every problem in life for their child, but through the steps provided your child can begin to address and solve their own problems and benefit from greater mental health throughout childhood.
Remember this is just a roadmap and not every child is the same. If your child is having problems coping with stress it does not mean that you are a bad parent, it just means that other related issues may have already begun to escalate. Stress is the gateway that can lead to future issues such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and other problems. If your child is having problems coping with stress call us at 940-228-2171 in order to receive help for your child.