Stress Management Tips for Kids of All Ages

Healthy kids are more likely to handle the average stresses of life with ease. Lay the foundation for great health habits by teaching your kids how to take care of themselves. Set a good example by practicing good health habits yourself. You might also try these tips:

  • Serve water instead of sugary drinks. Keep a pitcher full of good quality water in the refrigerator or buy bottled water that is as easy to grab and drink as a soda.
  • Keep healthy snacks in the house instead of junk food. Prepared cheese cubes, carrot sticks, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, ready-to-eat fruit, whole-grain crackers, hummus, dried fruit, and whole-grain cereal with milk are all healthy, high-energy choices.
  • Encourage daily activity. If kids aren’t involved in school sports, look into other organized fitness opportunities such as gymnastics, dance classes, sports camps or clinics, or gym memberships.
  • Make exercise a family affair. Walk, ride bicycles, jog, or run around on the playground together.
  • Encourage self-expression. Many kids enjoy drawing, making things out of clay, building structures, or writing. These creative outlets can also be excellent outlets for stress because they build self-esteem and develop artistic talents.
  • If your child is really stressed about an impending test, remind her to practice deep breathing, which will help to feed oxygen to the brain, making it work better. Taking a break during study time with a twenty-minute nap can also help your child to feel refreshed and able to get back to the books in a more effective state of mind. To work well, a power nap should be between twenty and thirty minutes — no shorter, no longer.
  • Making time for family or for just doing nothing is important for teaching kids that overachieving isn’t always the answer. Reserve at least one evening each week as family night. Encourage a leisurely, relaxed evening together with no scheduled activities. Play games, make dinner together, talk, laugh, take a walk or a bike ride. Your kids will always remember this together time, and these evenings put a nice pause in busy schedules.
  • Perhaps most importantly, keep the lines of communication open. This sounds obvious, but keep reminding your kids they can talk to you, and keep talking to your kids. Let them know you are there to listen, and let them know what things are important to you. You know those commercials that tell you to talk to your kids about smoking, drinking, or drugs? Those are all important discussions, but you can also talk to your kids about other things that are potential stressors, like peer pressure, how they are enjoying or not enjoying different classes in school, how they feel about the various activities with which they are involved, who their friends are, and how they feel about themselves.
  • Last of all, try never to put your child in a position of responsibility for your stress. Make sure your child knows that you are the adult and that she doesn’t have to take care of you. Taking care of you is your job. If you are suffering from severe stress, such as from a divorce or depression, it is essential to seek help from an outside source, not from your child. That kind of stress is too much for a child to bear. Do your best to keep your vulnerable moments to yourself. Set an example for your child by letting her know you could manage your own stress in effective ways, including asking other adults for help.
  • If your child does seem to be in trouble, take action. Take him out for counseling, keep talking to him, and bring up topics, such as depression, that he may be afraid or embarrassed to mention. Be an ally and an advocate to your child. If he knows you are on his side, he’ll feel he isn’t bearing all his stress alone. That can be a monumental relief to a stressed-out child.
  • Many teenagers engage in early drinking, and the effects can be devastating. Underage drinking increases a child’s risk of accidents, makes a child more vulnerable to dangerous situations, and exerts physical stress on the body, especially in the case of binge drinking. Many teenagers have died from alcohol poisoning while trying to “have fun.” Make sure your kids understand the dangers of alcohol abuse.


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