Once upon a time, one of the most incredible things that happened to me was burning out of my assistant principal job. Yes, you heard that right. The journey to burnout is not something I would wish upon anyone. It was filled with moments of intense anxiety due to never-ending to-do lists and the countless needs of each student and family. Sorrow weighed heavy in my heart as I struggled to be the mother I desired to be, torn between my commitment to the job. It was when I finally unraveled and realized that the job was slowly draining the life out of me that I had a moment to pause and reflect on how it was impacting my children’s lives as well.
In that moment, I made the courageous decision to step away from the job and embrace a life that was healthier and more balanced. I vividly remember the sight of my children seeing me wearing my morning pilates gear on our way to their schools, instead of the usual professional attire. Working from the comfort of my home allowed me the freedom to breathe, walk my kids to school, enjoy a proper lunch, and have time for self-care. As a result, my children also blossomed alongside me.
It was during this pivotal time that I had important conversations with my children about stress and its detrimental effects. We acknowledged that stress is an inevitable part of life, whether it be worry, deadlines, or the anxieties that come with a new school year. As parents, it became crucial for us to identify the signs of stress in our children and adolescents, so we could provide them with the necessary support and guidance to manage it.
Here are some practical strategies we discovered to help our children navigate through challenging times.
Recognize the Signs of Stress
Mayo Health Clinic has identified the following signs of stress in children and teenagers:
- Changes in sleeping habits- difficulty sleeping, frequent nightmares, or excessive sleeping.
- Changes in eating habits- loss of appetite, increased appetite, or eating more junk food.
- Physical changes- excessive sweating, muscle tension, or stomach aches.
- Loss of focus and concentration- difficulty paying attention in school or tasks, and becoming forgetful or disorganized.
- Changes in behavior- becoming more withdrawn, irritable, or having frequent emotional outbursts.
Strategies to Help Your Child
Open Communication Channels:
Encourage open and honest communication with your children, and let them know that they can always talk to you about their feelings, no matter what. Make sure that you listen carefully without interrupting, empathize with them, and validate their feelings.
Provide your child with emotional support by providing them with a safe, stable, and predictable environment. Spend quality time with them doing the things that they love, and let them take breaks from activities that stress them out.
Encourage Healthy Habits:
Make sure your child is getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and exercises regularly. These can help reduce stress levels, boost immunity, and increase self-esteem.
Teaching Stress Management Techniques:
Teach your child to manage their stress by encouraging them to practice stress-relief activities like deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation. Encourage them to engage in hobbies and activities that they enjoy, and let them take breaks when they need to.
In the End
Once upon a time, stress was just a regular part of life. It wasn’t the stress itself that mattered; it was how we handled it and learned to say “no” to unnecessary things. We also understood the importance of setting a good example for our children. As parents, we recognized the signs of stress in our little ones and provided them with the support they needed. We guided them through managing stress and challenges, fostering their growth and resilience. We never forgot that stress was just a normal part of life; it was our ability to deal with it that truly made a difference.
If you’re struggling with what to do when your child has a behavioral problem, with stress itself, or are looking for help with how to deal with a disruptive child at home, the Confident Parent Collective is the place for you. Please reach out to Amanda Irtz, Parenting Coach, for your complimentary coaching call today.