Supporting Stress in Children
Written By Jessica Nava Orellana, AMFT #117894 Para este blog en ESPANOL,
abra este documento.
With Covid-19 still interrupting our lives, we thought it would be good to remember our four part series last fall on Childhood Stress. We hope the wisdom of our therapists brings healing, help and hope to you and your children as we continue to navigate our new normal.
It is important to create a safe space for children that allows them to cry, be angry, and vocalize their stress. What is stress? Stress is the way your body reacts when it is put in challenging situations. It is a way for your body to deal with the pressures it is experiencing. Not all stress is bad. It can keep you focused which is beneficial; however, bad stress is when you can not stop worrying about something and begin to feel overwhelmed which can lead to anxiety.
To help children feel supported when stress occurs it is important to validate their feelings and ask where the stress is located. Asking questions such as “Do you feel it in your hands with anger? Do you feel it in your head with a headache? Where do you feel it in your body?” Being able to acknowledge where the stress is can help children discover what options they can take to alleviate their stress.
Help your child remember that stress is not a bad thing, and we all instinctively experience it to make sure we are motivated. Talk about stressful issues even if they are not resolved. Having conversations about stressful situations with your child are important. They create a safe space for them to feel understood and that their feelings matter. Help your child focus on what needs to be done to help them support problem solving steps.
Scheduling play time with your child, such as spending quality one-on-one time with them, can help alleviate their stress. This can be as simple as going outside on a walk for fresh air or being able to listen to their favorite music station to relax and unwind.
Finding safe coping skills that meet their personality and needs can also help children experiencing stress. Deep belly breathing, time out to color to their gather thoughts, reading their favorite book, calling a friend or making a meal together are ways to help them cope. Focus on what works for you and your child. Find their safe coping skills to use when stress does come up and role model how you handle stress by implementing safe coping skills for yourself as well.
Below are some resources to help you tailor your stress coping style.
Stress Management Tips
Shift from a “Stress Hurts” to a “Stress Helps” Mindset
When I feel Worried
50 Coping Tools