Helping Our Kids Deal with Stress

Helping Our Kids Deal with Stress January 17, 2014

One of my children seems particularly affected by stress. This child tends to be pretty easy-going and slow-moving, so it often comes as a surprise when I hear the words “I’m so stressed out, there’s just too much pressure!” come out of this child’s mouth. Often, I cannot understand what is so stressful about the situation; in my eyes, everything is under control and we are just plugging right along. When I ask what is stressful, this child answers, “What if the teachers change their mind and decide to have a test? What if I forget all of my spelling words? What if…” Basically, many different possible scenarios are going through this child’s head, and the uncertainty is overwhelming.

I have a few thoughts about why this is happening. First, there has been a big leap in terms of academic responsibilities and difficulty this year, so I suspect that the heightened expectations are somewhat stressful. Second, this child is at a developmental stage characterized by much emotional, physical, and spiritual growth, so facing the unknown both within and without is probably a bit scary. Third, this child’s temperament (melancholic, I believe) probably also plays a role.

In order to help my child cope with the stress, here is what I have done thus far:

1) I have offered to pray with this child, and I have suggested that they ask for the protection of their guardian angel. I remind all of my children of Jesus’ words when he said, See that you do not despise any of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father (Matt 18:10). Each of us has a guardian angel, and we might as well ask for their help!

2) I have asked this child to be specific about what is stressful, and I have listened carefully and observed patterns in what is said. If a particular theme keeps rising to the top, I sit down and talk with this child at a time when we are both calm, and tell this child what I have noticed. Then, I have asked if this child would like to hear my suggestions. If yes, I will give a couple of practical tips and ask if this child needs my help in implementing them.

3) I have tried to keep our schedule predictable and fairly low-key.

I would love to hear your suggestions on helping children cope with stress!

Mary, Queen of Families, pray for us!

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