Don’t think your kids are immune to an overload of stress. Here are some ways you can help them cope with it all.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
At their young age, kids sometimes might not know how to manage their stress, so it is crucial for you to be there for your child and help him. If you’re not too sure how to help your child cope with his stress, check out our tips below.
Manage Your Own Stress First, Parents
Pamela See, educational and developmental psychologist at Th!nk Psychological Services, stresses the importance of parents knowing how to healthily manage their own stress first since children tend to imitate their parents. “If parents model healthy ways of dealing with stress, their children are more likely to do the same,” she says.
See recommends the following tips parents should do to manage their own stress:
Listen to Your Child
Parents aren’t usually the first people young children will go to confide in. As parents, make the first move by asking your child if he is facing any problems, or simply ask him how he is feeling. Listen to what your child has to say and don’t judge or blame him. The point here is to give your child a safe outlet to express what he is going through. “Listen to your children’s needs without trying to give them a reason or defend. Listen with openness to what they have to say,” advises Geraldine Tan, principal psychologist at The Therapy Room.
Provide Unconditional Support
Sometimes, young children might feel put off from confiding in their parents because they feel like their parents will not understand them or that their parents might scold or blame them instead for the problems they are facing. That’s why it is important to let your child know that you will be there for him no matter what he is going through.
“Allow your child time to talk about his or her difficulties with you, and come up with strategies (e.g. time scheduling, engaging in a relaxing activity together, etc.) collaboratively whenever possible. Give lots of encouragement for effort observed,” recommends See.
Maintain a Balance
“Balance [your child’s] needs, your needs, and the school’s needs,” says Tan. Even young children can have too much on their plate sometimes, what with having school, homework, examinations, and supplementary enrichment classes. This can get overwhelming for your child, and the last thing you want is for your child to be so preoccupied with his academics that he forgoes everything else.
Help your child balance all of his responsibilities.
Teach him to prioritise and managehis time well so he learns to take time out for himself.
Remind your child (and yourself, too) that his happiness and well-being are not wholly dependent on his school grades and that it is just as important for him to do things he enjoys.
Have Realistic Expectations
Every parent wants the best for their child, but your child has his limits too. Having unrealistic expectations for your child will just put him under too much pressure, which might affect his school performance, as well as his physical and mental health.
Let your child know that you don’t expect him to score perfect grades every time. Don’t compare your child to his siblings and/or peers either. Instead of motivating him to do better, it will just put him down and make him feel like he is not good enough, which can worsen his stress.
Maintain Good Sleeping Habits
This seems obvious, but with all the entertainment available online, from social media to YouTube and Netflix, it can be difficult to ensure your child is getting enough sleep. It is easy for your child (or anyone, really) to get lost in hours of screen time, well beyond their sleeping hours, which means your child is unable to rest properly to allow him to perform well the next day.
This can exacerbate your child’s stress, so ensure he is getting enough sleep every night. Take out any devices from your child’s room when it is time for him to sleep, or do something relaxing with your child like reading a book together before his bedtime.
Limit Screen Time
Besides reducing the hours of sleep your child gets, excessive screen time can also cause your child to get insufficient rest throughout the day, which might make his stress even worse.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely prevent your child from going online, but it is possible to limit his use of these devices. As Tan says, “Devices have taken over the society. We cannot stop the children from interacting with them but we can teach them good habits. Good screen habits will allow the child’s brain to have pockets of time to relax his eyes and allow stimulation from other sources.”
Have a family day out during the weekends so the whole family can spend quality time together,
sans devices.Or when your child gets home from school,set aside one or two hours
where you can let himplay in the park, or take a walk together.
Being outside in nature can do wonders for your child’s stress as it may allow him to take his mind off of homework and/or his other worries.
Do “No Judgment” Activities
Tan recommends letting your child engage in activities that he finds pleasure in and are not graded. Allow your child to do things he enjoys, just for the sole reason that he likes doing them. This will make your child happier, and what’s a better way to beat stress than that?