Managing School Stress

If you're feeling the pressure of a busy home life, have you considered that your child(ren) may be feeling the crunch too?

Stress can affect everyone, even children. Learning how to handle the demands of school, extra-curricular activities, and friendships can sometimes be hard. When the pressures build up, children can feel overloaded and anxious, so helping them learn how to manage stress will go a long way to keep your young one(s) mentally and physically healthy.

One of the challenges parents face is understanding the differences between "normal worry" and sign of stress, say advisors in this field. Stress can affect social relationships, schoolwork, and a child's happiness and emotional well-being. Children who feel stressed exhibit many of the same signs that adults do, such as headaches, having trouble sleeping, or irritability.

There are a number of things you can do to help your child manage stress:

Look at the sources of stress in your child's life and adjust the things that  you can change. For example, maybe your child has trouble with transitions or with pressure. Maybe he/she shows signs of stress at the beginning of the school year, or just before big tests. Do what you can to be more available during these times.

Acknowledge your child's worries and tears. Sometimes things that seem small and unimportant to adults can seem very big and worrying to children. Be sure to let your child know that you take her/his concerns seriously.

Model good ways of handling stress. Talk about how you handle stressful situations. Show your child the positive ways you relax and relieve stress – whether it's through physical activity, listening to music, taking a hot bath or shower, or reading for pleasure.

Slow down. Many adults lead rushed and hurried lives, and all this hurry can have a spill-over effect on children. How many times do you hear yourself say, "Hurry. We're late." Children can begin to feel as frazzled as adults do. Make a conscientious effort to try to slow down when you are with your children.

RBC supports a wide-range of programs that help children and you stay happy and healthy, inside and out – and the tips above were drafted with the guidance of Ceridian Canada, their employee assistance provider. RBC Children's Mental Health Project funds organizations across Canada to provide trusted resources and programs for parents. More information can be found at  www.rbc.com/childrensmentalhealth.

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- Source: The Toronto East RETAIL PAGES, Volume 3, Issue 11: Nov. 20- Dec. 18, 2013, p. 16

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