Tips to help children deal with stress at school

Stress levels are rising among children. Every child has days that are tougher than others at school, but it’s important to be proactive in managing stress and helping kids to deal with challenges. As parents, it’s natural to worry about children and how they respond to obstacles or difficulties. In this guide, we’ll share some useful tips to help kids deal with stress at school. 

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Promote self-care from an early age

Self-care is a relatively new term but it’s not a novel concept. It means taking good care of yourself. We usually associate self-care with adults, but as parents, we can actively encourage our children to follow our lead. Simple things like getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising regularly can make a huge difference to mental well-being and physical health for adults and children. Promote self-care from an early age. Encourage your children to learn about health and how their bodies and minds work, and set a good example. Establish sleep routines, follow healthy eating plans and menus that prioritize nutrition and incorporate physical activity into daily and weekly schedules. 

One of the most important elements of self-care is getting enough rest. We all need sleep to recharge our batteries, rest, recover and restore energy levels. If you have young children that get up multiple times in the night or object to going to bed, or you have older kids who stay up late, try to adopt a routine. Set a bedtime that ensures that your kids get enough sleep and stick to it. This is also helpful for adults. If you go to bed at the same time every night, your body clock will adjust, and you’ll start to feel tired as the time approaches. Relax in the evenings and get your mind and body ready for sleep. Try to set boundaries when it comes to watching TV or playing video games. Use the evenings to enjoy activities that induce calm, such as reading, listening to music or having a bubble bath. 

Talk openly

Talking is something many of us are reluctant to do, even though we know that it can be helpful if we’re feeling stressed, worried or anxious. Try to break down barriers for your children and encourage communication from an early age. Speak to your kids about their day at school, what they’re studying or what they enjoy doing in their spare time. Ask questions and make sure you listen. Let your children know that you’re there if they want to chat. This can be a general conversation or a catch-up or a deeper talk about their thoughts and feelings if they’re struggling or they want to offload. If you’re open with your children, they’re more likely to be open with you. It can be beneficial to talk together as a family and to make time for conversation. Eat together, organize fun things to do after school or on the weekends and try to read signals. If your child is quieter than usual, or they seem nervous, on edge or more withdrawn than normal, ask if they’re OK and let them know that you’re there. 

Help out with learning and studying

A study conducted by researchers at Stanford University revealed that over 50% of students view homework as a source of stress. If your kids are struggling with their homework, they’ve lost the motivation to study, or they’re finding it hard to solve problems or figure out concepts, try to help. You may be able to help them with assignments using your own knowledge, skills and qualifications, but if you can’t, there are other avenues to explore. Look for activities and learning resources like reading comprehension worksheets and practice tests online, get ideas and recommendations from teachers, and research private tutors and extra classes. It can also be helpful to explore different learning techniques. Often, children find learning easier if there is a visual or practical element, for example. Use different types of materials and activities to explain theories and ideas. 

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Build confidence

The school years are notoriously difficult when it comes to building and maintaining self-esteem and confidence. Every parent wants their child to feel confident, but it’s not always easy to increase confidence in children. Reassure and support your child, celebrate and reward achievements and hard work and make sure your expectations are realistic. We all want our children to try and work hard at school, but it’s important to manage your expectations. Avoid putting pressure on kids and teens and help them to work on weaknesses or areas where they struggle. They may find certain subjects difficult or they might worry about how they look or what their peers think of them. You can help to build confidence by working through issues together and letting them know that you will always be in their corner. 

We often measure success at school based on academic achievement, but it’s beneficial to focus on other metrics. Getting the best grades is not the only accomplishment parents should be proud of. They should also celebrate kindness, generosity, compassion, achievements in drama, music and sports, creativity, ambition, hard work and commitment. It’s also important to underline these achievements and traits to help children to learn that appearance isn’t everything. Young people have become increasingly aware of body image. Studies suggest that 53% of teenage girls in the US have issues with their bodies and this figure rises to 78% among 17-year-old girls. Try to discourage older kids from making comparisons with peers, celebrities and influencers and encourage them to celebrate their uniqueness. 

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Stress is increasingly common among children of all ages. It can be incredibly tough for parents to see their kids dealing with stress linked to homework, exams, relationships with other students, family issues or a lack of confidence. To help your children to manage, encourage and promote self-care from an early age, talk to your kids openly, let them know that you’re there to listen to and support them and try to build confidence. Help out with homework and studying, cheer them on and spend quality time together.

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