9 Parent Tips to Teach Children to Manage Stress

Traditionally, many school-aged children love school and look forward to start of a new school year. But for other children, it’s also a time of great stress. In fact, stress—those overwhelming feelings of doubt about ourselves or our ability to handle things—is as common in children as adults.

The greatest challenge to parents today is teaching children to manage stress effectively. Children may react to excess stress with behavior that seems immature, inappropriate, or even disturbing. One child exhibits anxiety and tears the night before going back to school. Another child speaks of new teacher and asks her parents questions while trying to imagine the teacher's personality. Another child enjoys shopping for school clothes and looks forward to seeing new friends. 

Stress can be terrifying to children who lack the emotional maturity or experience to understand and deal with it. The challenge for parents, teachers, and other caretakers include how to recognize signs of stress in children of different ages, how to know when stress threatens to overwhelm a child, and what to do about it.

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In Nurture Your Child’s Gift, I offer excellent suggestions to help parents cope with their children’s stress. A stressed-out condition can result from a specific cause or from life in general. Here are some examples:

  • At 17, Jen was a high school senior expecting to graduate with honors in the Spring. Just before Christmas, however, Jen’s father lost his job and the family had to move into the basement of a cousin’s house. Jen soon developed a severe allergy, then asthma. The illness cost her so much time from school that she required home-schooling to make up the difference.
  • Mark was only two when his parents divorced. Confused, Mark wandered the house, calling plaintively for his father, but weekends with Dad made him cry. Most weekends, Mark developed upset stomachs that were so bad he’d miss preschool on Mondays.

Age-Related Stressors

Toddlers need to feel safe and comfortable. Stress for preschool children can arise from a new face at home or at day care, the disappearance of a familiar face, visiting lots of new places at once, or abrupt changes in the family’s structure, relationships or daily routine.
During the grade-school years, children become concerned with pleasing people like teachers, parents, guardians and coaches. School life—even a change in assigned seating or having to take a test—brings higher levels of stress every year. And when it comes to peers, even the threat of diminished acceptance is terrifying. Sleep-overs, birthday parties, sporting events and music competitions can trigger stressful reactions.
Through middle school and beyond, the pressures kids feel from parents, teachers, peers, society at large, and from within increases. Children have to learn adapt to these pressures. Because they have grown in their intelligence, curiosity and knowledge of community, demands for their attention, time, energy and effort can often feel like a tug of war. As in the cases of Mark and Jen, it is not unusual for life-altering events to express themselves in illness. At the University of Missouri, for instance, researcher Mark Flinn found that a child’s risk of upper-respiratory infection increases by 200 percent for the seven days following a high-stress event. And parents like Miranda’s might confuse what they believe are normal behavior with an expression of anxiety. Children often display their tensions in small acts that have aggressive undertones.

How You Can Help

  1. There are many ways parents can help their children deal with stress and stressful situations.
  2. Don’t try to fix everything for the child, and avoid offering advice. Sometimes just listening so that your child feels truly heard may be enough to relieve the stress.
  3. As you listen, ask questions that encourage your child to think a situation through. “What’s the next step?” or “How would you handle that?” are good questions. Ask a lot of “what-if” questions, too.
  4. Help children listen to themselves. Nurture Your Child’s Gift suggests quiet-time techniques for children to listen to nature sounds like rain or waves upon the beach, to their own heartbeat, or to recordings of whales, dolphins or birds.
  5. Encourage children to spend time listening to their thoughts. When they feel free to speak their own thoughts aloud about a situation, things suddenly become clear.
  6. Nurture Your Child’s Gift details a diaphragmatic breathing exercise for kids and parents. Shallow breathing is associated with the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Deeper, effective breathing produces feelings of relaxation and calm.
  7. Use soothing and rhythmic music, even simple drumming, to help your child relieve muscle tension. It works!
  8. Don’t overlook exercise for releasing stress and tension. It works for your child just as it does for you. Have children walk the dog, get on the treadmill or stretch through easy yoga movements for children.  Any movement they enjoy will help ease stress away.
  9. Parents can do much to alleviate stress in their children’s lives. Effectively dealing with your own stress is the first step. Showing your kids how to release their stress comes next.

 

Copyright © Caron B. Goode.

More Tips for Understanding Your Child–Behavior

If you feel like your child’s behavior drives you crazy sometimes, you are not alone. Each of us has felt the same. Often, children’s misbehavior and tantrums effectively irritate others when you are tired, rushed, stressed, or worried. This is particularly true if you could not seem to correct such misbehavior.

Misbehavior Is A Message

If you are facing this kind of problem, begin the approach to solving it by treating the misbehavior as a message. Your child definitely is trying to tell you something he could not easily and effectively express.

Understanding your child's misbehavior could help you discern and decipher what exactly it is he is trying to say to you. He has goals for misbehaving the way he does.

Through comprehending misbehavior, you could help yourself curb any unlikely or bratty behavior of your child so you could eventually enjoy a better and stronger relationship. Here are some guidelines that could help you going.

Be The First One To Reach Out

Nobody ever said parenting is an easy and smooth task. More frequently, parents find it hard, difficult, and frustrating to handle their children. If you have problems with your child's behavior, it would help a lot if you would reach out.  Anyway, if you would not take the effort to do so, who would? If you find yourself resisting the idea on principle, then drop the resistance. Reach out to your child.

Controlling Behaviors Is Controlling Your Responses Also

First, understand that misbehavior is every child's creative and scheming approach to seek and catch attention. You may start curbing it by evaluating and determining how you actually feel and react if he misbehaves. Your child may be continuously acting out if he sees you are irritated and annoyed.

To make a good start, try to ignore the bad behavior even for once. Give her more attention every time she behaves more appropriately. This could be your creative way of telling her that the best way to catch your attention is through behaving properly.

Don't Show Or Use Your Anger-That is Detrimental

Try not to show anger whenever your child misbehaves. You may send him the wrong signal. If you get irritated or annoyed, try your best to be as calm and as pleasant as possible. This way, you are removing yourself totally from the conflict. The moment she calms down, encourage your child to talk and tell you what it is he likes. Then, try to set logical consequences for his misbehavior (but be careful not to make it look and sound like actual punishments).

Always have patience. There is no need to feel helpless no matter how difficult the situation could be.  As an adult, show the child that you are mature and knowledgeable enough in handling the situation.

Keep on talking to your child during his calm moments so you could settle and resolve whatever differences you may have with each other. Understanding your child may not be simple, but you could always succeed with determination and practices responses. Foster a healthy and open relationship with your child and make yourself approachable at all times.

Have The Empathy Gene?

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other." ~ Meryl Streep

Get Paid For Your Talents

The ability to resonate with another person on a deep level is the talent of a parenting coach, and all coaches for that matter. Such resonance is achieved through empathy, the ability to feel with her client, not to feel for them or about them. Resonating with clients is a striking intuitive knowing which enables you, as a parenting coach, to predict their needs and provide an unprecedented quality of caring.

The ability to resonate with others is the character strength of a person whose core temperament is Interpersonal, adaptive, or supporting. You are a natural in being supportive and caring in your responses to others. The mottos of the Academy for Coaching Parents International are focused around this concept of empathy:

"To empower and sustain loving relationships" and
“To make a difference.”

The first thing a coach does is establish a loving relationship with the client, who may be a parent, grandparent, caregiver or anyone who has hired a coach to help them better parent or serve as a more effective guardian or caregiver to children.

Parent coaches assist, help, inform, inspire, and educate. They provide clarity, reflection, and reality checks for parental illusion, and support a parent's intuition. They are responsive and responsible as they provide frameworks and structures for conversations around sensitive issues.

A parent coach may serve as a coach for a parent’s personal confidence, or is involved with family relationships and parent/child issues. A parent coach is a mentor, not a doctor, minister or therapist. A coach is a friendly person a parent can call with everyday problems. A coach provides encouragement and expertise, coaching and challenges, all with the foundation of empathy. Through empathy the connection is made.

Are We Born With Empathy?

  • Empathy is more than feeling pain; it is also connecting to one’s struggle, emotional intention, as well as feelings of joy and celebration.
  • Babies demonstrate empathy in a global sense. If other babies cry, then babies respond with crying.
  • By the time a child is 2 ½ years old, he or she has developed a self-identity and understands the feelings of distress belong to his playmate or parent or sibling.
  • You will see preschool children empathize by reaching out to alleviate another’s distress through words or touch.
  • By age 8, a child understands the human plight of birth, death and vulnerability.

Children depend upon the demonstrations of responsiveness, warmth and empathy from the people in their world to continue cultivating connection and empathy within themselves… or their ability to remain empathic is up for grabs.

A parent coach is the model for empathy, helping a parent to learn the use of empathy through modeling. In turn, a parent who feels successful will model responsiveness with their children. AND…we will have succeeded in making a difference – the truer mission of a parenting coach.

Let your genome make you successful:

Now you think have an empathy gene? Would you like to use it for making a difference in the world and at the same time get out of this rat race and be financially successful at the same time?

Become a Certified Parent-Family Coach

What Is Your Coaching Mission With Special Needs?

As a parent-family coach or coach for special needs families, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help parents in similar situations find clarity, hope, and greater functionality in their family. With your help and guidance, parents will

 

  1. find their center of gravity,
  2. push past their feelings of inadequacy and overwhelm,
  3. begin restoring regulation and resilience in their children with behavioral disorders through securing the child-parent relationship.

One agency director informed me that she regularly uses my daughter’s case for training of her new case managers and therapists. It does not give a parent the warm fuzzies to hear repeatedly from mental health professionals, whom you look to for help, that your child’s case is the most difficult one they have ever seen. [ctt template="5" link="cjUt1" via="yes" ]This is the child I have. This is the child I love. @parent_coach[/ctt] These sentiments are my personal reflections and a parent, a parenting coach, and a training professional. The sentiments also match the experiences of some of the parents you will coach…parents, who struggle to move forward after facing the reality of one or more diagnoses like ADHD, Autism, Conduct disorder, or Bipolar disorder. The effects on the family are the same. [ctt template="5" link="9Dqc5" via="yes" ]It triggers a parent’s worst nightmares. Concerns, fears, sleepless nights, and the search for answers begin. @parent_coach[/ctt] This is how a parent enters the world of mental health and special needs…a world where terminology is confusing and diagnoses sound like the unending combinations of an alphabet soup. If care is not taken, a parent or teacher might begin to refer to the child by the labels of their diagnosis, and see in the child’s behaviors, both positive and negative, only as symptoms of the same. As months or years of struggle pass, parents don’t differentiate which part of the behavior belongs to their child’s temperament, and which part is a symptom of the diagnosed condition. Amid the onslaught of doctors, neurologists, medical tests, and therapists elucidating the deficits in their child’s development, parents easily lose sight of the child and concentrate on what they see most, the disorganized and dysregulated behavior. The question that brings this home is simple:

Which child do you see…one with special needs or one who is just plain special?

Twice we prepared to send our young daughter  to long-term residential on the strong advice of doctors and psychiatric nurses working with our daughter. The first time she was four years old. The second time she was nearly seven.

Ultimately, we decided it was not something we could live with, nor did we believe it was in the best interest of our daughter.

It is your mission: to understand the unbelievable, heart-wrenching choices some parents face as part of everyday life. We believed we had tried everything to help change our daughter’s behavior. Nearing the edge of hope, we came to the realization that something had to give. It would either be our child, or us parents and we didn’t want it be either. However, this is not the end of the story…merely the beginning. Information from neuropsychology, trauma, attachment, and relationship, the same information you will learn in course, Coaching families with Special Needs,  We discovered choices and options that allowed us to regain personal and family balance and hope for the future. We changed and improved our parenting skills, and developed a positive healthy plan to parent our daughter. [ctt template="5" link="s01ji" via="yes" ]The information was a revelation that allowed a welcome return to my original parenting philosophy with new knowledge and understanding about raising children with love, compassion, empathy, and relationship. @parent_coach[/ctt]

  • Both negative and positive reactions, actions, and attitudes of caregivers significantly impact the child, and hinder or support the development of secure attachment.
  • Environment, temperament, trauma and stress, is relative to reactive behavior, and internal organization and regulation.
  • Parents can learn to manage, diminish, eliminate, and contain even the most severe behavior.

Finally, we had something to DO. We were no longer on the fringe of being powerless to help our daughter. We devoured and assimilated the information, because we had a lot to lose. We refused to cry uncle! We resolved to be committed! We did not hold back! We completely transformed our outlook, honed our philosophy, strategized our plan in every minute detail, and changed our lifestyle. It was not ever easy, but it was easier than what we had been doing and how we had been living for so long. Let me share who the unruly, dysregulated, and unattached little girl became. She became our mission possible.