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Stress Busters

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Children often feel our stress at this time of year, so what can we do to lessen its effects? We don't want stressed-out children to bottle up their emotions, creating emotional and physical effects. You can help your children develop skills to express and release their feelings to maintain good emotional health..

Children often feel our stress at this time of year, so what can we do to lessen its effects? We don't want stressed-out children to bottle up their emotions, creating emotional and physical effects. You can help your children develop skills to express and release their feelings to maintain good emotional health.

The truth is you know your children best. Some children are more resilient than others to teasing, school issues, or family situations. I call these kids "water-off-a-duck's-back" children-nothing seems to bother them. Others are more sensitive and require a little more attention, love, and affection. Try to meet your children's emotional needs by talking openly and paying attention to what may be bothering them.

It is extremely difficult to predict what will stress out children. What may seem like a minor event to an adult, such as not being invited to a party or being teased, may seem catastrophic to some children. Even at an early age, you can help your children practise stress management techniques to open the lines of communication and encourage them to share problems with you.

Regardless of your children's ages, give them special time when you focus only on them. Often, children need to feel they are safe and listened to before they will open up. During this time, leave the dishes and laundry, and don't answer the phone. Sometimes all your children need is 15 minutes of your undivided attention.

Although the way children view the world differs greatly from that of adults, stress is a reality to them as much as it is to us. By providing our children with the tools and attention to deal with stress, we are giving them a healthy outlet that sets them up with coping skills for life.

Stress Busting Tips

  • Encourage a creative outlet such as painting, drawing, or modelling clay to help children express their feelings and let off steam.
  • Participate in a family exercise program. There is nothing like a little sweat to take children's minds off their problems.
  • Teach your children some stress-busting yoga poses to help them develop appropriate coping skills. Home videos designed especially for kids are now available.
  • Ensure your children eat a proper diet filled with essential fatty acids (fish oils), lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid white flour and sugar products that can exacerbate any behavioural or emotional conditions.
  • Teach your children how to belly breathe. Belly breathing switches the nervous system from a "fight or flight" response to one of relaxation. Have your children sit down and breathe through the nose for a count of five watching the belly rises; then have them exhale through the nose for a count of five while the belly flattens.
  • If your children are old enough, encourage them to keep a journal to vent their feelings. Assure your children their diary is confidential and theirs alone.
  • Bring laughter into your home. Rent funny movies, play board games, or tell jokes. Never underestimate the power a little giggling can have on your children.

Give your children hugs, hugs, and more hugs! Above all, children want to know they will always be loved and supported.

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