School is just around the corner. For some kids, it is an exciting time to see friends and learn new things, but some kids can experience anxiety about the unknown. Once school starts, stress levels can get quite high as kids face new pressures. If your child is showing signs of stress or anxiety, these tips can teach proper strategies for managing that stress.
1. Get Some Exercise
According to Mayo Clinic, exercise boosts endorphins, which create natural stress relief. This is the phenomenon often called a “runner’s high,” but kids don’t have to run to experience it. They simply need to be active. Good, hard exercise will boost the mood and help shed stress. The more time you can give your child to play outdoors and get some real exercise, the less stress your child will feel.
Of course, taking kids outside is not necessarily going to encourage them to exercise. You need to give them incentive to do so. Find a playground that has interesting structures that will encourage your child to play, or organize a playgroup with some same-age friends who will keep your kid active while outdoors.
2. Encourage Good Sleep
Good sleep hygiene is crucial to managing stress. Getting sufficient sleep gives your child the ability to handle the anxiety that comes. During summer it’s normal to stay up late and sleep in, but this won’t work during the school year. Start getting into a good sleep routine a few weeks before school starts to help make the transition easier.
3. Teach Your Child to Verbalize Anxiety
Teach your children to verbalize what they are worried about. Sometimes kids keep their anxiety inside because they don’t know how to express it. Teach your children to talk about their worries by saying, “I feel worried because . . .” By letting them say what they are worried about and validating their feelings, you can help them avoid the problems that come with keeping anxiety inside.
When your children do express their feelings, remember that the problem may seem small to you. Make sure that you do not minimize what they are worried about. Saying, “You’ll be fine,” tells your child that his feelings aren’t important. Instead, listen, and try to remember what it was like when you were little and facing things you were afraid of. Give your child strategies to use to manage the stress instead of minimizing it.
4. Teach Relaxation Exercises
Relaxation exercises can help your child manage stressful feelings. Taking slow, deep breaths, or imagining a relaxing place can bring immediate stressful feelings down. Children can practice a simple relaxation exercise by closing their eyes and imagining themselves in a calm place, like the beach. They should listen for the sounds and sniff for the smells and imagine all of the details of a day at the beach. By focusing their energy and minds in this way, they can remove some of the feelings of anxiety.
5. Establish a Routine
Kids thrive on routines. Knowing what will happen next can lessen the anxiety of the unknown. A few weeks before school starts, establish a routine that will transition easily into the school schedule. Make sure the routine allows time for quiet activities, like reading books together or working on a craft, which can encourage relaxation. Also, make sure the schedule includes that crucial time for exercise. With a routine in place, your child will know what to expect.
Giving your children a way to manage stress will prepare them well not just for school, but for life.
Becky’s tips: Buy them some new things to start the school year off with a smile… I like to get our kid’s simple things: a new outfit, new toothbrushes (we like REACH Complete Care), and a new book about their new school year! Here are the 4 things that I like to buy do BEFORE the school year starts.
Guest author, David Reeves, is Marketing Manager of Playland Inc. in Carrollton, GA. Playland Inc. is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier of playground equipment, including tunnels, slides, swings and more. It has developed into the only company in its field to offer direct to all of its customers, the ability to purchase outdoor and indoor playgrounds and amenities.