Coping With Stress
Mom and Daughter Walking in a neighborhood
Stress Affects All of Us

Even the youngest of children experience emotions caused by stress. To help children manage these feelings and reactions, talk to them about: 

  • What stress is
  • How we react to stress
  • How to cope with stress in healthy ways

These discussions can help children recognize and respond to stress in healthy, productive, and positive ways.

Understanding Stress

What is stress?

Stress is what you feel when you are worried or uncomfortable with something or someone. It's important for children to know that everyone experiences stress and it is a normal part of life. Reassure the children in your life that, depending on how we deal with stress, it isn't always bad and can actually help us rise to challenges, resolve problems, and build confidence.

What Causes Stress?

Stressors, or things that cause us to feel stress, are different for everyone. A big math test might be a stressor for one child but another child looks forward to the challenge.

Stressors can change depending on the day or person. it is OK for each of us to feel different and have different relations to similar situations.

A great way to learn about your child's stressors is to observe their behavior and talk about it. In a moment when they are not feeling stress, start the conversation by asking them, "Do you know what stress is? "

 

 

 
 
Girl smiling as she is talking to a parent
Mother and Daughter talking on a large couch

A great way to learn about your child's stressors is to observe their behavior and talk about it.

In a moment when they are not feeling stress, start the conversation by asking them, "Do you know what stress is?"

A great way to learn about your child's stressors is to observe their behavior and talk about it.

In a moment when they are not feeling stress, start the conversation by asking them, "Do you know what stress is?"

How Stress Shows Up

Not everyone handles stress or displays stress in a similar way. For instance, here is a list of the ways stress can display in children:

Physically

They could have a headache or bellyache, eating and sleeping habits may look different, sweaty hands, butterflies in our stomach.

Mentally

They might have trouble paying attention or remembering things.

Emotionally

They may feel angry, frustrated, scared, afraid, or cranky.
 
 
Girl listening intently during a family discussion

Talking About Healthy Coping

Support Through Stress

This Guide provides you with the practical ways to support the child in your life when they're experiencing stress.

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Helping Your Child Cope

This guide helps you discuss positive coping strategies with your child.

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Learn Together

Activities for Caregivers and Kids

Explore and discuss these topics with a child by using our fun, engaging activities.

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Ask The Experts

Remember, stress is normal! If the stress is impacting your child’s daily life, or you notice a pattern of negative coping strategies, you’ll want to have a more serious conversation about the root of the problem. If your child is nervous about an upcoming performance or test, or there has been a recent big life event, continue to monitor the situation and brainstorm healthy coping strategies.

It’s important that we get to the root of the problem. It might be worthwhile to have your child visit the doctor to run some tests to make sure there isn’t something else going on – your child may have a learning disability, an anxiety disorder, or it could be normal stress! It’s always best to figure out what the root cause is first. In the meantime, talk with your child about what might be bothering them and brainstorm some healthy coping strategies they could try.

As trusted adults, it’s important that we do our best to model positive and healthy coping behaviors. However, we are human after all, and may want to indulge in some of those less healthy behaviors every now and again. Depending on how old your child is, it may be worthwhile to share with them that you struggle with some negative coping behaviors and that you are working on finding alternatives. You could even suggest finding an activity the two of you could do together when either one of you is feeling stressed!

Looking for more information on how to talk to the kids in your life about consent? Download this handy list of resources.
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