If your kids have already gone back to school this month, or are getting ready for their first day, it’s no secret that the stress of making that kind of major change is nothing to be ignored. Waking up early, meeting a new teacher and students, learning new and unfamiliar subjects, and in some cases, starting at a completely new school can all help contribute to anxiety and stress that can be expressed through behavioral issues, lack of sleep and/or appetite, or even illness. As a parent, it might be hard to understand what you can actually do to help combat the effects of stress on your children. After all, you’ve got your own stresses like work, bills and family schedules to worry about, and your kids have to go to school. So, what can you do to help keep your kids calm and stress-free as they make the transition back to school?
Start with SLEEP! School-aged children and pre-teens need approximately 10 – 11 hours of sleep a night! Teenagers can get away with a little less, at a recommended nine hours a night. Getting enough sleep at night is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. This period of rest helps our bodies reset and repair from the day’s stresses and many experts believe that when children don’t get enough sleep it can affect their growth and immune system. Sleep also helps us humans deal with stress better. Having a well-rested mind means having a clear mind, one that is ready to take on the day!
How do I ensure that my children get enough sleep, you ask? Start with a bedtime routine, if you don’t already have one. Establishing a routine that they can rely on will help make bedtime easier for all involved. They key is consistency, children need consistency in their lives before any kind of habit can be established and it’s up to you as the parent to enforce it.
Next, set aside some time, every day, to allow your kids to exercise! Physical activity, whether it’s guided or not, can help release pent-up energy, help build strong muscles and bones and even help balance hormones – leading to better performance on a stress test. This time for physical activity can be something as simple as running around on the playground, playing sports with other kids in the neighborhood, playing tag in the backyard or even doing some family workouts! In fact, kids are more likely to want to exercise if they see you doing it, so lead by example and get moving!
While getting more sleep and exercising are both great physical actions you can take to help your children combat stress, ensuring mental stability is just as important. Young children experiencing stress or anxiety for the first time might not fully understand what they’re feeling, and certainly won’t know how to handle it. Taking the time to talk with your children about what stress is, and helping them understand how to deal with it can go a long way! The American Psychological Association has these tips for talking with you children about stress:
- Be Available
- Listen Actively
- Respond Thoughtfully
- Seek Help if Necessary
And finally, make sure you laugh! Spend some time joking with your kids, tell them a silly story, or let them tell you one. Laughter is a great way to release some of the stresses of the day, and who knows, it might even help you relax too, Mom and Dad! In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, laughing can have both short-term and long-term positive effects on us! If you’re looking for some laugh-spiration (laughing inspiration, get it?) here are some family-friendly jokes to try at the dinner table tonight!
Stress can be a serious factor in the success of your child, so use these tips to help keep your children happy and healthy this school year!
If your child is unhappy or under-performing in their school, contact us to see how we can help you and your family have access to a private school that’s right for them!