STRESS ~ Coping Strategies for Children and Teens
By Linda Dieffenbach, BSW, RMT
July 20, 2016
Stress affects everyone, even our children. Helping your children learn to manage stressful emotions will go a long way toward helping them cope better in all areas of life, and it just might make things go a bit more smoothly for you when tensions get high. Here are some useful and fun tips and tools that you can teach your children. Be sure to remind them to use these skills and tools AND be sure to model them yourself.
Make Homemade Stress Balls Together:
There are lots of ways to do this and you and your child can have fun experimenting together. Stress balls are fairly simple to make and are great stress relievers. Start with balloons and choose a filler. You could use flour, sugar, rice, dried beans, or play dough (you could even get fancy and use crystal or gemstone chips such as Rose Quartz which is universally calming). Fill the balloons with your chosen filler, tie them shut and decorate them with faces or other fun designs. Remind your child to use them if they are feeling anxious, upset, angry or overwhelmed. Make different types and see which ones each of you like more.
Worry stones can be wonderful tools to help sooth anxiety and worry. You can purchase worry stones or make your own. Any small, flat, smooth stone will work, such as river stone which can be found out in nature or at a local garden or craft shop. Gift shops often have small polished crystal and gemstone worry stones, too, which are great because you can get stone that support specific challenges. If you want to get creative, you and your child can get paints and decorate your stones; or get some clay to make your own and paint them with special words, pictures or colors to help you relax.
Deep breathing is a wonderful way to help calm the body and release excess anxiety, stress, anger and overwhelm. Here are a few fun breathing tools that you can teach your children to help them learn to cope better with stressful experiences.
Figure 8 Breathing:
This is a great visual tool to help with focused deep breathing. Draw or print out a large image of a figure 8 on a piece of paper and lay it sideways (so it looks more like an infinity symbol). Label one side “Breathe In” and the other “Breathe Out”. Starting at the center point of the symbol, use your finger or a pen to trace the figure 8 slowly around the figure 8, breathing in slowing through the nose on the “Breath In” side, and exhaling slowly and gently through your lips as you trace over the “Breathe Out” side.
Hot Chocolate Breathing:
This one is simple, fun, and delicious!! While holding a mug of hot chocolate (or pretending/visualizing), take a deep inhale through the nose, taking in the yummy scent of the hot chocolate, and then breathe out through your mouth – blowing on the hot chocolate to cool it down.
Blowing bubbles is a great way to practice deep breathing to release stress and have some fun at the same time. Do it with your child. Take deep breaths in through the nose and then blow slowly and gently through your lips into the bubble wand. You can also have fun popping the bubbles to ‘pop’ your frustrations.
Teaching your kids to meditate is a wonderful way to help them on many levels. Set aside time each day to meditate with your kids – even if only for 5 to 10 minutes. You can teach breathing meditation, or use visualization or guided meditation. Meditation can help them improve their focus, increase self-esteem, and improve their relationship with you. Not sure where to start? Bring them with you to one of our weekly classes. There are lots of great resources and tools on the internet, too.
5 Senses Game:
Invite your child to recall a happy memory in their mind and list or think of two things for each of their senses. 2 things they saw, 2 things they heard, 2 things they felt, 2 things they smelled, and 2 things they tasted.
Arts, Crafts and Music:
Creativity is a wonderful outlet for anxiety, emotional upset and stress. Here are just a few things that you and your child or teen can do to help release stress and get the creative juices flowing:
- Finger Paint
- Listen to music
- Play instruments
- Make crafts: jewelry, crochet, kitting, embroidery, candle making, etc.
- Create madalas
- Mold with clay (or play dough)
- Build with blocks
- Play in a sandbox
- Bang on some pots and pans
- Sing together
Be creative, but have fun with it. You and your kids will both benefit from the time you take to teach them these valuable skills!
We are here to help support you and your family
In addition to meditation classes, Wellness in Harmony also offers a number of services to support you and your children through stressful times as well as to ensure optimal overall health and well-being. Call us or visit our services page to learn more.
About Linda Dieffenbach:
Linda has over 15 years experience as an energy healer, coach and personal development expert. She specializes in empowering you to overcome the patterns and habits that are keeping you feeling stuck and overwhelmed with your life. Her areas of training and expertise include personal empowerment, self-care skills, stress management, healthy relationships, effective communication, suicide prevention, and trauma. To learn more about Linda, click here. Interested in working with Linda? Click here.