Parents Can Help Kids Manage Stress

Posted: September 15, 2015

All of us including children experience stress. Kids may have stress from a variety of sources at home, school, or friends and relationships...
Image: © iStock Photo Christopher Futcher

Image: © iStock Photo Christopher Futcher

Situations such as coping with their parents’ divorce, starting a new school, or nervousness about fitting in with their peers can all cause stress and anxiety.

Some signs that a child is experiencing stress include:

  • Physical – headaches, stomachaches, bed wetting.
  • Emotional – fear, irritability, sadness.
  • Behavioral – crying, losing temper, nervous tics.
  • Relationships – withdrawing, bullying, extreme shyness

We can help children learn to manage stress in positive ways.

Below are a few ideas from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach:

  • Help children talk about what is bothering them. Don’t force the talk, but offer opportunities such as bedtime or car trips. Instead of asking, “What’s wrong?” ask, “How are things going at school?” Respect their answers; criticism may cause them to stop sharing.
  • Spend one-to-one time through hobbies you do together, making time to talk.
  • Eat meals together as a family; it helps kids eat better food, have better school grades, fewer problem behaviors, and better peer relationships than kids who don’t eat with their family.
  • Show kids how to relax and decompress. Have them remember or envision a pleasant situation like a favorite vacation or happy experience. Encourage them to destress by listening to music or reading. Or have them work off the stress by going for a bike ride, jump on a trampoline, or other favorite physical activity.
  • Role play ways with your children to help them learn how to handle problem situations.
  • Model ways to handle stress for your children. Exercise daily, eat healthy, relax with hobbies, and encourage mealtime sharing.

To learn more about helping children managing stress and develop resiliency, register for the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14. Strengthening Families is seven sessions designed to reduce adolescent substance abuse and other problematic behaviors in youth ages 10 – 14 years.

Three programs will be held this fall in Carbondale and Moosic. The Carbondale sessions will be held from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Sundays starting September 27 and on Mondays beginning September 28 at the Carbondale Area Elementary School. The Moosic session will run on Wednesdays starting September 30 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the Riverside Elementary East School. All sessions are free and include a free meal for the entire family, free child care for younger children and prizes for attendance. For more information or to register for this fun, family oriented program, call Penn State Extension at 570-963-6842 by September 14.

Contact Information

Karen Thomas
  • Extension Educator, Food, Families & Health
Phone: 570-963-6842