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Helping Children Manage Stress

Teaching our children to manage stress is a very important part of managing our own stress.

© 1999, by Desiree Scales

The last few months this column has focused primarily on stress in parents trying to cope with raising a family as well as a successful business. As I sat here thinking about this month's column and watched my one-year-old daughter deal with getting off the bottle (complete with tantrums and tears), it hit me that teaching our children to manage stress was a very important part of managing our own stress.

Let's face it, a child going through a difficult transition or dealing with a new situation can undergo a lot of stress. Their stress can deeply effect our own well-being and emotional state as well. It's important to remember that stress doesn't only cause feelings of nervousness, apprehension or even fear, but it can manifest itself physically as well. Stress wears down a body's immune system which can cause children to become ill.

Some common stress-factors in a child's life include:

  • Parent and teacher expectations
  • Death of a family member, friend or pet
  • Divorce, separation or remarriage of parents
  • Moving or changing schools
  • Lost or broken toys
  • Being punished
  • Arguments between family members
  • Parent's own stress
  • Illness or handicap
  • Holidays and vacations

Some common signs of stress are:

  • Tantrums, aggression, holding of breath
  • Hyperactivity
  • Withdrawal
  • Biting fingernails or grinding teeth
  • Sleep disturbances or bed-wetting
  • Eating problems
  • Increased sibling fighting

There are many ways to teach children how to manage their stress effectively. Some good activities are:

  • Take a time out
  • Take a walk together
  • Exercise
  • Listen to relaxing music (Mozart is great for babies!)
  • Read a book
  • Talk about it
  • Take a bath or play in a pool
  • Use a punching bag or punch some dough or clay
  • Plan ahead and prepare the child for the change
  • Practice slow breathing
  • Consult a professional counselor if stress is really effecting the child in a negative or violent manner
  • Give your child a hug and remind him you love him no matter what

There are some great links out there to help children and their parents manage stress. Here are a few good ones:

Desiree Scales is the Owner of Bella Web Design at 3605 Sandy Plains Rd., Suite 240-121, Marietta, GA 30066, Email: , Phone: 770-509-8797, Fax: 770-509-9488 (if busy, call above number), Web site:

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