Stress is a subject typically associated with adults; however, children can become stressed about their lives, too. According to a KidsHealth KidsPoll, 36 percent of children listed grades, school and homework as their leading causes of stress. Without coping strategies to healthily manage stress and anxiety, children can easily become overwhelmed.
As the typical school year draws to an end, children often experience the added pressure of ending the year on a positive note. Although stress itself is unavoidable, there are many ways to help your children manage and reduce the stressors in their lives and build coping skills that will last a lifetime.
- Use problem-solving skills to handle stressful situations. A child's stress over classroom assignments can lead to a loss of confidence and affect his ability to focus on the entire lesson. If your child finds that he is spending a long time on a particular homework assignment, encourage him to be patient with himself. If the child is in Kumon, work with his instructor to develop a plan of action before frustration damages your child's self-confidence.
- Train your children to calm their minds and find solutions on their own. If your child tends to get stressed at test time, teach him how to quiet his mind and work through difficult questions. Advise your child to stop and take a deep breath. This moment of reflection will help him calm down, clear his mind and regain focus. After the child has taken a few deep breaths, advise him to move on to another question and come back to the difficult question later.
- Praise improvement and growth, not just good grades. Praising your child's hard work on the way to achieving academic success is an important stress reliever. A child needs to focus on the task at hand to make every step along the way valued and important. Constantly reaching for the end result can lead to frustration, rushed work and an overwhelming sense of urgency when the child does not understand the material. Celebrating small victories along the way will provide an incentive for the child to continue.
- Be a good listener. Everyone needs to vent sometimes, and your child -- no matter what age -- is no exception. When your child comes to you and wants to talk, listen. Reserve your criticism, and simply let your child speak. Ask the child open-ended questions to probe for the root cause of concern. Oftentimes, the child will uncover the solution to the issue if you simply guide him to it.
- Set up a routine and stick to it. Routines teach children how to be organized, which helps to reduce stress levels. You can start by designating a study hour in your home which should occur at the same time every day. Make sure that all family members are aware of study hour so that they can help minimize distractions such as loud TVs. Provide an area that's well-lit and quiet so your child can concentrate and study more efficiently.
- Seek outside help if needed. Supplemental education programs such as those offered at Kumon Math and Reading Centers can help children fill the gaps in their learning and make classwork less stressful. (Visit Kumon.com to find a center near you.)
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