Stress and Our Children

Stress and Our Children: Coping with Change

As the pace of our life increases, so does the need for information, to create a sense of balance in these times of change. Our children are not immune to change, stress and uncertainty. They flourish when they feel balance in mind, body, spirit and emotion.

Dealing with stress is a process, not an outcome. We try to eradicate stress but it is ever-present. Good stress enables us to try new things, to jump out of bed to try our best for the day. Poor stress causes illness, poor sleep and discouragement. So how do we help our children to learn to manage, reduce or control their perceptions of stress? How do we provide them with the tools to feel balance in mind, body, spirit and emotion?

Body: If a child is not feeling well with a headache or an upset stomach it is hard for them to learn new information. They may feel frustrated or out of sorts. Although their body is obviously not balanced due to the stress of the illness, mind, spirit and emotion also suffer that day. To help keep our children balanced in body it is important to make sure that they are getting enough sleep, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, playing, drinking water , brushing and flossing teeth and eating protein sources such as dried beans, meat or fish. Try deep breathing exercises or a children's yoga class. Good belly laughs will also exercise the inner body and are great at relieving stress, too!

Mind: Have you ever watched a child smile in delight when they sound out a new word when learning to read or solve a difficult math problem? Any opportunity to engage your child in learning helps to balance the mind. Children are great observers. Let them catch you learning, too, while reading, working on a crossword puzzle, doing a project or trying a new craft. Ask them about their school day and take time to talk about what they are learning in class.

Spirit: To balance the spirit encourage your child to dream, to wonder, to delight in nature and to write their thoughts in a journal or draw a picture. Children of all ages like to feel that they are important and a part of a larger whole. Encourage your child to have daily responsibilities, such as feeding a pet or setting the table for a meal. Consistent routines help in times of change.

Emotion: Children feel balanced when the feel love, acceptance and security. A parent may help their child to feel emotionally healthy by understanding their needs, encouraging independence and giving guidance. Teaching by example helps your child to gain a strong foundation in a confusing, stress-filled world. Make it a point to meet your child's friends. Encourage your child to maintain a balance of quiet, reflective time and activity.

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.

-T'ai Chi Saying


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