Helping children and teens learn to deal with stress

Children and teens deal with just as much stress as adults. Adults can help by teaching youth skills to deal with stress in healthy, positive ways.

Learning to cope with stress is an important life skill to develop.  Photo credit: Pixabay.

Learning to cope with stress is an important life skill to develop. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Stress is something we all have to deal with on a daily basis, including kids. Helping children and teens learn to deal with this stress at an early age can help them to better cope with many things in the future and become emotionally healthy adults.

There are many causes of stress, some good and some bad. Defining specific stressors as good or bad depends on the individual and how they are coping with each stressor in their life. In children and teens, stress can come from school, home, peers, or extracurricular activities. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, some symptoms that may indicate your child is experiencing an overload of stress include:

  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Drop in grades
  • Toileting or eating concerns
  • Illness
  • Unexplained fears or anxiety
  • Regression to earlier stages of development
  • Isolation
  • Drug or alcohol experimentation

Helping your child learn to deal with stress in a healthy way can increase their emotional health, as well as create a stronger bond between you and your child. Letting children know that everyone has stress in their lives is a very important part of the process. While some of the things that cause stress to your child may seem like no big deal to you, it is a big deal to them and it is important to acknowledge these issues. Reassure them that they will get through the situation and brainstorm ways to cope or handle the situation with your child.

Another way to help children cope with stress is to teach them relaxation techniques.  Some of these can include:

No matter their age, stress will always be a part of your child’s life and learning to cope with this stress is an important life skill to develop. Helping children and teens to cope with stress early in life can help them become healthy adults.  For more information on how to deal with stress, take a look at other helpful Michigan State University Extension articles on this topic.

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