Helping Kids Cope with Stress

“Teens report higher levels of stress than adults during the school year… 31% of teens report feeling overwhelmed by stress… yet nearly half of teens surveyed (42%) responded that they aren’t doing enough, or aren’t sure if they’re doing enough, to manage their stress.

If teens, who are fairly aware of the stress impacting their lives, struggle to find ways to manage, how can we expect younger children to cope?”

Three things mentors can do to help their mentees cope with stress
Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring

Starting a new school and/or grade, getting to know new teachers and peers, transitioning back into having homework and tests… going back to school can be stressful for kids.

So how can you help yours have an awesome school year?

1. Normalize stress.

Let them know it is common for people to experience discomfort when they encounter new or challenging situations. Also, make sure they know common symptoms of stress in kids to recognize in themselves.

Be proactive about discussing the value and courage of seeking help. Assist them to identify caring people they can talk with if/when feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or confused – yourself, family members, their Big Brother/Sister, school counselors, teachers or coaches, faith leaders, etc. Share about free resources like TEEN Line or Iowa Concern Line – numbers that anyone can call 24/7 to get help from trained professionals about stressful situations.

2. Tailor the environment.

Help your child(ren) think through where they are most likely to experience stress, and how they can create peace there. For instance, if they get stressed at home because it’s too noisy to do homework, perhaps utilizing earplugs, instrumental focus music, or a nearby library would help. If they get stressed in math class, perhaps they can talk with the teacher or counselor about using a stress ball under the desk, moving to a different spot in the classroom, and/or cooperatively addressing the root cause.

It may sound silly to ‘teach’ something our bodies do naturally, but mindful breathing reduces stress, increases alertness, and can help reduce symptoms associated with a vast array of health challenges: anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and depression among them. Here are some tips from PBS for teaching kids mindful belly breathing.

3. Teach breathing.

We tailored these suggestions from The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, a recommended follow on Facebook and Twitter. The Chronicle is just one of the many resources highlighted on our Resources webpage. Check out this page, share it with others, and let us know what youth or relationship development topics would most benefit you and/or your child going forward.

Thank you for being a caring, informed, and powerful mentor or family member! You are helping set the tone for an awesome school year!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County

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