December 4, 2019 | by Kelle R. Shutter MD, FAAP

Adults and children alike deal with varying amounts of stress every day. Kids can become stressed by problems at home or with friends, or with activities like school and sports. There are, however, many ways to help reduce your child’s stress and help them better manage stress so they feel more in control and calm, including:

Create a Peaceful Morning Schedule

Mornings can be hectic in many households with everyone getting dressed, eating breakfast, and packing up to head out for the day. By creating a structured but flexible 30- to 45-minute morning routine, your child will start their day feeling ready for the activities ahead. This will reduce tension and help them to stay focused throughout their day.

Control Your Approach to Stress

Children learn a lot from their parent’s approach to dealing with stress. Acknowledge the way you are feeling out loud and allow your kids to see the strategies you use to take control of your emotions and move forward. Use the same techniques to help your child cope in times of increased stress.

Use Positive Language

We all make mistakes, but what is important is how we react in a bad situation. Positive reinforcement is a way to teach your child in a way that will keep them calm and remember that they have room for improvement. Dwelling on mistakes and using negative language will discourage them and may worsen the issue.

Learn Deep Breathing

Deep, concentrated breathing slows the heart rate, increases nitric oxide in the blood to relax muscles, and decreases blood pressure. There are many different breathing techniques that can be helpful and fun for children. One helpful tool is breathing in for four seconds, holding it for four seconds, and then releasing for four seconds. Blowing bubbles or using a feather can also be helpful ways for children to utilize deep breathing while simultaneously having fun.

Take Time to Stretch

To help reduce stress, encourage young children to do stretches like reaching up high to the sky and then down low to touch their toes. To make stretching more fun and creative, children can also lay on their backs and make different letters and shapes with their arms and legs. Finding ways to slow down and stretch is a great way to help them relax their muscles and minds.

Try Mindful Walking

Taking a mindful walk and getting out in nature can help children tap into their senses. Focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells of the environment around them can be a great way to take a break from stressful thoughts and activities.

Lighten their Schedule

Kids need to be physically active everyday but avoid overscheduling too many activities. This can result in reduced energy and increased stress. Allow for daily down time so kids can rest and relax. Ask your child if they are enjoying the activities they participate in, and allow them to cut back if needed.

Create a Structured Evening Routine

Similar to creating a peaceful morning schedule, it’s important to create a structured evening routine that allows quiet time after dinner like reading or listening to soft music and limiting devices before bed to prepare for a restful night’s sleep. Kids need anywhere from 9 to 12 hours of sleep every night.

Stress is a part of daily life but we can learn ways to manage it so it doesn’t get out of control. Help reduce stress by creating a positive and peaceful home environment, learning to manage your own stress, and sharing mindfulness tips and breathing exercises to let go of stress and maintain a healthy balance physically and emotionally.

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