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Back to School: Helping Your Child Deal with Stress

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

As adults, we stress about bills, work, our family, and just about everything else in our lives. Don't you sometimes long for the good old days of being a kid? Well, being a kid isn't as easy as you remember it being. Children today are under more stress than any other generation before. If you have observed school for children today you've seen this new stress yourself; today's pre-k was my first grade! Children are learning more, earlier, and are being stressed to the max to keep the learning going. I know that when I was in second grade my teacher never gave me 2 hours worth of homework!

So to help your heavily stressed-out little one, here are a couple techniques to keep them cool under pressure:

-Give your kids down time. We are a culture that has one foot in one activity and the other foot running for the next. Make sure your kids have time to PLAY (unstructured play) in between tuba lessons and soccer practice.

-Do creative activities with your kids; paint, make a model structure, or go to a local museum. This helps teach our kids to balance the analytical left brain with the more creative and expressive right brain.

-Let your child know how much you care. If your child is anxious about school, send personal notes in the lunch box or book bag. Children absorb their parent's anxiety, so model optimism and confidence for your child. Let your child know that it is natural to be a little nervous anytime you start something new but that your child will be just fine once he or she becomes familiar with classmates, the teacher, and school routine.

-Always make sure to justify your child's stress and worries. By letting your child know that you understand the stress they are under and the problems they may be facing they will feel confident in coming to you with them. Many times children keep what is bothering them locked away inside until it builds up into behaviors, often leading to lashing out. If your child feels confident enough to come to you with their issues, without worrying about trouble or punishment, then they will feel much more relaxed and capable of dealing with situations.

-Teach your kids simple breathing techniques, like the diaphragmatic breathing. Stage one: inhale, feel your belly rise; exhale, feel your belly release; Stage two: as belly rises, feel ribs extend up and out; Stage three: belly rises, ribs extend up and out, collarbone lifts to chin without shrugging shoulders. Putting a stuffed animal on little ones belly is a fun way to teach them to breathe. This is a great technique to help your kids deal with the stress of testing, bullies, and just being a kid.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Back to School: Helping Your Child Deal with Stress

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