Many people don’t realize that kids, even really young kids, experience stress too. Plus they feed off the actions and behaviors of the adults around them so if a parent or caregiver behaves badly during tough times, they will too. Any time there is a transition, life change, new routine, too much on their plates or anything that pushes a child out of their comfort zone, they can experience the same stress response as adults do when we get overloaded which can lead to insomnia, crankiness, illness, appetite problems, behavior problems, learning issues and much more.
With children, stress needs to be discussed using terms that they understand so they know how to deal with life’s ups and downs more effectively. When kids are stressed they act mad, sad, scared, frustrated and over-excited. Begin to notice your child’s behaviors and help them cope in fun but powerful ways.
Here are some fun ways for kids to get their feelings out and de-stress:
- Dance Party – shake ‘em out with the jiggles (circulates stress chemicals out faster and releases endorphins which are feel-good chemicals)
- Singing – stimulates the vagus nerve at the back of the throat which relaxes the body
- Drawing or writing – often kids can’t tell you what they’re feeling but are able to write it down or draw it out
- Breathing – never too young to teach kids to meditate – my daughter was two and to this day will stop herself when she is overwhelmed and consciously take deep breaths
- Laughing – a good laugh session can take a stressful situation and make it fun (or at least bearable) again
The best way to teach kids to manage stress effectively is to manage it well yourself. They feed off of and mirror your behaviors so always ask yourself if you are acting in a way that you would want your child to act either now or when he or she is an adult.