Facilitate children to manage their stress:-
“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy”- Robert Heinlein.
We sometime think that kids are so lucky since they don’t have to worry about managing household chores, paying bills, handling tough bosses, dealing with peer pressure/ office politics or work performance. But trust me, being a child is not a child’s job. On contrary they have to face immense apprehension about their performance in school/college, sports, curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular activities; they too face peer, social, homework pressure; and challenges like dealing with bullies or sexual abuse. Alas, even relaxing activities like sports, art and drawing, dancing, swimming, aerobics, hiking, jumping, cycling, biking, running has become more about performance than enjoyment. All these dynamics lead to unhelpful thoughts and self-criticism which affects their health, mental/emotional stability or even overall well being. Failing in a math test or under performing in cricket match won’t make them criminals. Failure and denunciation are part of everyone’s life.
The most common question after reading all this is- Can we manage their stress? My answer is NO! But we can surely teach them to manage their stress. I can understand that different child copes with pressure in a different way. Some also face major nerve-racking conditions like the divorce of their parents, death of a parent, parent abuse, drug/alcohol addict parent, living with a single parent or step-parent. Over busy or over free child also faces multiple stress. These are a few proven ways:-
• Push them to face the situation rather than avoiding/ running away /procrastinating it.
• Make sure they have proper sleep pattern and take adequate rest for minimum 8-10 hours in a day.
• They can take a power nap of 30 minutes during the day to feel fresh.
• Don’t cut their emotions. When they are fretful allow them to state their feelings. As an alternative of saying, ‘No, you don’t look scared at all’, say ‘you do look little nervous. Is there any problem?’ then you can help them, to find solutions to the problem. Accepting the problem so as to solve it is crucial.
• Don’t say ‘Stop getting nervous’ None of us would love to or do it with purpose. Instead, help them to effectively handle the stressful situation.
• If your child is in anxiety driven state, don’t pass negative comments, criticize them or scold them. Teach them some stress relieving techniques like yoga, meditation prayers, tai chi, qigong or simple deep breathing exercises.
• It’s necessary to schedule their day or help them in scheduling their day (in case they are adult) which includes few or at least one relaxing activity.
• Eating a well-balanced diet which includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein at regular interval also helps to control mood swing.
• Reward their bravery. If they optimistically dealt with complicated circumstances recompense them. By prize I don’t mean any expensive gifts, it can be just a few good words of appreciation, a kiss, a hug or a small gift/ treat.
• Allow them to face an age-appropriate stressful situation. Don’t overprotect them. Moderate stress is necessary for helping a child to cope with stressful situations. In actual fact, help them to identify the signs of stress, except that they are in the state of stress and find a suitable solution to overcome their fretfulness.
There are many corporal and mental symptoms of stress. Corporeal signs include-
• increase in blood pressure, heartbeat
• decrease/increase in appetite
• stomach upset
• sleep disorder
Whereas, psychological indicators are-
• crying without reasons
• droning, stubbornness or lack of concentration
• throwing tantrums
• constant worry, fear, anger or nervousness
• unable to control emotions
• the unvarying feeling of fatigue
• childhood habits like teeth grinding or finger biting (yes, seen even in a growing/adult child)
If you can’t handle their stress, seek help from teachers, coaches, counselors or therapist. Finally, it all begins with you. If you show them how positively you deal with your unease or hassle provoking situation they will follow your foot-step as today’s angst-free child is healthy youth of the future.