Are your kids stressed? Would you recognize it if they were?
As adults we may sometimes be so wrapped up in our own daily stressors we might not recognize when children are suffering from their own stress. A WebMD Survey found that 72% of the children surveyed had experienced an increase in negative behaviors over the course of a year due to stress. These behaviors included more arguing, crying, and whining, among others. The study also found that while parents could identify their own stress levels, they had difficulty recognizing it in their own children.
Back to school can be a particularly difficult time for kids, and they deal with stress in a variety of ways that may not always be obvious to a parent. It is up to us as parents to show them how to handle the stressors of everyday life and learn to cope or how to balance their inabilities when they begin interacting with other kids, some bigger or stronger or smarter every single day. If your child has to take part in pediatric physical therapy and happen to be old enough to feel insecure about it, make sure you empower your child and give them confidence, don’t transfer your stress to them. This can be even more difficult if your little one is just about to start school for the first time. Although, often they are the excited one and mom and dad are the nervous ones. As your kids return to school, here are a few tips to help them keep their stress levels down.
As parents, we have all heard the same standard How was your day? answers, over and over. It may seem as if they are doing fine but don’t stop asking questions regardless of how many one-word answers they give. When you can’t get them to talk, discuss your day and try to give relatable examples of issues you had with other people or frustrations and how you handled them…or maybe how you should have handled them. Allow them time to process their feelings and make sure to let them know you are there to listen when they are ready.
Kids just want to be heard without being judged or lectured. If you are having trouble getting them to open up, try playing a game. Totem is a game designed to build relationships while focusing on positivity and conversation. It is a great way to work on talking about feelings and processing emotions.
Get Plenty of Rest
We all know how crucial it is for kids to get adequate sleep. If you have a little one that is always on the go and is either staying up too late or getting up too early, try the stoplight alarm clock for kids. Kids know when it is time to sleep and when they should get up by looking at the colors of the stoplights. It is easy to teach kids about time and how to start encouraging proper rest as well as the responsibility to wake up on time for school.
Make Time for Play
Our schedules can be very hectic, and we have to plan out every last second. This can be difficult for kids. It doesn’t leave much time for them to just be kids. With my oldest son, we give him time each night after his bath to play on his own in his room. It gives him some time away from his little brother which can be a stressor (for both of them) sometimes. He gets to play on his own and enjoy time to just be himself. He has his favorite toys set up, and Playmobil has always been popular in our house.
My son had the chance to check the new Summer Villa, and it has been his go-to lately. With school back in session, he has loved to come home and extend his summer with the summer villa. The set comes fully furnished for a family of four, with an outdoor barbecue set. From the individual kitchen items to the bedroom sets and small details like removable flip flops, the realistic design is something my son loves. He could spend hours creating stories and pretending.
Playmobil creates sets that encourage imaginative play and help keep my son away from screens, if only for a few hours a day. They have a large variety of playsets for just about anything and everything that a kid might be interested in. Letting him free play without interruption gives him the chance to relax and work through anything that may be bothering him at school.
Food is always a struggle in our household so this year, I am trying something different. I picked up a copy of Bean Sprouts, and I am having my kids help create their own fun recipes for school lunches. It has been a whole new way to get them involved in their food choices and help them make better choices. Making sure they have all the nutrients their bodies need will help them feel better and focus more at school.
Don’t Overextend Your Kids
While kids might think they want to join every sport and extracurricular that their friends have joined, it is important not to overschedule you or your kids. Learn how to say, “No”. You don’t have to keep up with everyone else, and your kids don’t have to either. Help them choose activities that they can take joy and pride without feeling overwhelmed and pressured. Teach your kids how to set boundaries and manage a healthy workload by doing the same in your own life. Check out Break Free by Tanya J. Peterson to help you start creating the life you want instead of doing what everyone else wants.
Communicate and Organize
It can be difficult to keep up with everything that is going on at your child’s school, but stay in tune with what is going on in the classroom. Ask the teacher for updates over email if you don’t have time for a face-to-face, check social media pages for upcoming events, and review monthly calendars. Most importantly, stay organized to make sure the whole family is on the same page. Create a family calendar that your kids can add events to that will help teach them how to manage time and stay organized, as well. It might prevent last minute mentions of bakes sales or forgotten book reports. Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to go over the calendar to discuss the schedule and any potential stressors or frustrations.
Just let your kids know that you love them. If you feel like you’re running out of things to say, try these pre-made tear-off lunch box notes.
However you do it, just tell them you love them in every way you can think of. Get creative and never stop showing your support even when it feels like they aren’t listening. Be there for them, and make this the best school year yet!