COPING WITH SCHOOL STRESS
As school has begun, stress may have kicked in for your child. Between schoolwork, homework, standardized tests, bullying, and after school activities, most children are stressed out. Common signs of stress are changes in mood or behavior, headaches and stomachaches, changes in sleep and appetite. For teenagers, signs may include cutting oneself or expressions of despair or hopelessness.
Here are a few resources to help your child/teen to cope with stress:
1. Teach your child time-management skills. Encourage your child to use a planner to keep track of assignments. When an assignment is finished, your child can check it off for a feeling of accomplishment. Also teach your child to budget her time wisely by making a list of all activities (homework, after school activities, exam prep, sport activity) she does every week and help her put them on the calendar.
2. Consider cutting down on extras. As a nation, we tend to believe that the more the better. However, over-scheduling is a huge source of stress for children of all ages who are worried about keeping up with their responsibilities and activities. Instead, reevaluate the priorities and look for ways to cut back on school work and extra activities.
3. Encourage sleep, exercise, and family mealtimes. About 30 to 40% of adolescents have 6 hours or less of sleep on school nights while studies show that adequate sleep reduces level of stress. Being physically active prevents stress from building up and mealtimes are an opportunity to connect to your child/adolescent by communicating with her and supporting her emotionally.
4. Practice relaxation. Deep breathing, writing affirmations, and positive thinking are healthy habits to develop daily. Those techniques are proven ways to reduce stress and bring relief from anxiety.
5. Keep the fun in childhood and teen years. It is essential to maintain a balance between work and play. So, let your child/teen have unstructured time to relax and play the way she wants. Plan with her activities you all want to share together: hanging out at the beach, having a bike ride, watching a movie, playing a board/video game.
Stress is part of our life. However, when managed properly, children and teens do not get overwhelmed and then have the ability to develop a sense of accomplishment and pride in different areas of their life.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.