home
RSS
How to stop your kids from stressing
Children can develop coping skills by handling some stress. Experts advocate maintaining kids' routines during stressful times.
February 16th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

How to stop your kids from stressing

Editor's note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of seeking serenity: the quest for well-being and life balance in stressful times.

There is a good chance that my children (and yours) are stressed out on a daily basis.

Not necessarily from catastrophic burdens such as death, abuse or abandonment (though far too many children are dealing with those as well), but from the slow boil of everyday anxieties - a swell of unrelenting childhood stress that, in the long term, may bury our kids good and well in a tsunami of serious health problems.

More, faster, better

High on the list of stressors is the pressure many parents place on their kids: the mentality that the earlier a child does something - walks, talks, reads chapter books, excels in advanced robotics for kindergartners - the better.

“Competitive anxieties do get induced in a lot of children because they’re induced in a lot of parents,” says Jay Belsky, an internationally recognized expert in the field of child development and family studies and a professor at the University of California, Davis.

“There has been a sea change, a cultural shift,” says Denise Clark Pope, senior lecturer at Stanford University’s School of Education and co-founder of Challenge Success, a project that aims to reduce unhealthy pressure on young people. “We live in a society where there is a premium on performance as opposed to mastery or effort; on grades and scores over engagement; on speed and outer appearances over intrinsic motivations.

“Many parents are getting caught up in the craziness, in the ‘more is better’ and ‘faster is better’ mind-set. Children end up overscheduled and in and out of schools and classes, with very little time left over, including for sleep.”

Strategies for stress relief

The experts Belsky, Pope and Parul Chandra, head teacher at Bing Nursery School, Stanford’s laboratory preschool - favor a handful of strategies that have proven effective in helping children reduce, prevent or cope with stress.

Allow for playtime, downtime, family time. A young child’s job is to play.

Pope says, “Research shows that playtime, downtime and family time are major protective factors in increasing health and well-being, and lowering stress in children.”

Children also need to feel part of an unconditionally loving family.

“You can’t have the benefits of family without spending time together. And it doesn’t matter how you define family; it doesn’t have to be biological. What does matter is literally sitting down, having meals and doing activities together,” she says.

Studies shows that family meals are the single strongest predictor of higher achievement and fewer behavioral issues for children between 3 and 12. “That’s 25 minutes, five times a week.”

Children need time to reflect, to rejuvenate, to rest, Pope says. “And we include sleep in that because lack of sleep is correlated to higher rates of depression and anxiety.”

Distract. Belsky finds that distraction can be an effective strategy for both younger and older children.

“It’s really a matter of turning their attention elsewhere, away from what’s stressing them,” he says.

Early on, adults can help children regulate their attention. Eventually, children will develop the skill themselves and learn to place their focus away from what’s bothering them.

Problem-solve. “We as adults tell children how to solve problems,” Chandra says. “But problem-solving with them instead of for them is very important. You want children to think about what it is they are going through. Have them explain it to you. And then articulate it back so that you can be sure that you are understanding correctly and that you’re both on the same page.”

Ask open-ended questions such as “What do you think may help?” Having children brainstorm a list of possibilities, making them aware of strategies they have used in the past and getting them to come up with solutions can all be hugely empowering for a child.

Keep routines. Chandra advocates maintaining children’s routines during particularly stressful times. “It’s important that they don’t feel like their whole lives are topsy-turvy, that they have parts of the day to look forward to living in the moment and just being a child.”

Watch, listen, communicate, reassure, validate. Listen and watch for atypical behaviors in children, suggests Chandra. The younger the children, the harder it will be for them to talk about what they are feeling.

Pay attention to your child’s stories. Know that their dramatic play is a window into what they’re thinking, going through and worrying about.

Validate children’s feelings. Tell them, "I know how that feels" instead of "you shouldn’t be feeling that way.” Validating is important because it alleviates a lot of stress. But also guide children toward empathizing with others. Ask, “How do you think the other person feels?”

Communicate with your child. Talk about your most aggravating times. Bring up things that caused you stress and how you resolved these problems.

Reassure children that they will be OK.

“There is a whole palate of feelings between mad and sad," Chandra says. "Stress is always going to be there, but you have to give children the skills and words to be able to talk about it. If you don’t, behaviors will come out later and you will wonder where they came from! But acting out usually represents months and years of incidents and feelings that haven’t been discussed - layer upon layer upon layer.”

Let children be children. All three experts warn against treating children like smaller versions of adults. “Physiologically, kids are not mini-adults,” Pope says, “and the idea of miniaturizing the adult world is a huge problem. It can lead to things like inappropriate use of media, inappropriate ways of dressing and inappropriate things being put on children’s shoulders.”

Chandra advises, “Be mindful of conversations and things that children can pick up on at home. They pick up more than we think they do. And they if do happen to overhear something, explain that it’s an adult agenda, that their parents will take care of it.

“Children are innately wired to be happy people, and they tend to live in the moment. We as adults have so much to learn from them.”

A life with no stress?

Belsky says, “Look, no life is going to be stress-free. There is something to be said for learning to cope with stress that is in your capacity to cope with.”

Permitting our children the opportunity to experience some stress and enabling them to deal with it creates coping capacity. When you are building muscle, you shouldn’t be lifting too many weights. But the right amount can strain your muscles enough to increase strength. Coping is the same way. If it’s the right amount, children build capacity.

Family’s values

Pope recommends that families sit down and take a hard look at the value systems driving them. “Ask the big questions: How are you, your school and your child defining success? It is often that definition, that value system, that is driving the unhealthy stress.”

Work together to write a mission statement that articulates the family’s core values, Pope suggests. Who are you as a family? Where are you going? And who are you not? A lot of important parenting choices are made on the fly from your gut.

“You ask people what they want for their children and most will say, ‘A happy, healthy, self-sufficient person who gives back to society.’ But if you work backward from that, it’s not about the overscheduled, gratified 8-year-old. We are talking about the long term here.”

Pope adds, “And even if that train has already left the station, it’s not too late. It’s never too late! Put your stake in the ground, abide by it and live your values.”


soundoff (1,009 Responses)
  1. RV Remodeling Orange County

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Many thanks!

    http://southampton.ac.uk/~drn1e09/foaf/visualizer.php?url=http://ocrv.art/rv-repair-shop-la-canada-flintridge-california

    May 20, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. mcd rv center

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    https://www.shop-bell.com/out.php?id=kibocase&category=ladies&url=http://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-dashboard-repair-near-me

    May 21, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. trailer repair shop near me

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your website is useful. Thank you for sharing!

    http://www.ric.edu/Pages/link_out.aspx?target=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-hawthorne-california

    May 21, 2021 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. LbsoZisse

    canadian pharmacy cialis brand https://ucialisdas.com/ – cialis on line cialis online canada ripoff

    May 21, 2021 at 01:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Paint Shop California

    http://citidex.sfgov.org/cgi-bin/sunindex/getData.cgi?docColor=deptsonly&dispRec=yes&contact=TedYamasaki&phone=(415)557-4815&url=www.ocrv.biz/rv-repair-shop-highland-california

    May 21, 2021 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Conversion Van Repair Near Me

    After looking at a handful of the articles on your blog, I truly like your technique of writing a blog. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my web site too and let me know what you think.

    http://t.raptorsmartadvisor.com/.lty?url=http://fleettruckrepairshop.com/gmc-luxury-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 21, 2021 at 05:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Internet Marketing Companies

    This is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise infoÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

    http://www.pcinhk.com/discuz/uchome/link.php?url=https://www.spokanevalleyseo.com

    May 21, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. stair repair near me

    Excellent post. I am experiencing some of these issues as well..

    http://www.myzmanim.com/redirect.aspx?do=setlanguage&return=http://ocrvcenter.com/box-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me&lang=en

    May 21, 2021 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Khadijah Pashley

    I don't know about you all but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2011/03/a-nice-little-wrap-up-to-the-boeing-747-8-intercontinentals-first-flight/

    http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Be-a-Part-of-Giving-Tuesday-by-Supporting-the-Future-of-Flight-Foundation-.html?soid=1111846961938&aid=zrXG1JFUdEw

    May 21, 2021 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. SEO Marketing Firm

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a means you are able to remove me from that service? Many thanks!

    http://www.dogcaredirectory.com.au/router/?dcdAction=listingLink&id=360&url=http://affordableranking.com/

    May 21, 2021 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RebfZisse

    which one is better viagra or cialis http://rcialisgl.com/ canadian pharmacy cialis

    May 21, 2021 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. LbsoZisse

    canadianmed cialis http://ucialisdas.com/ cialis on line

    May 21, 2021 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. FmrfEncox

    when does cialis patent expire http://cialisee.com/ cialis and pay pal

    May 21, 2021 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. truck shop

    Hi, I do think your site might be having web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, excellent site!

    http://uhr.rutgers.edu/download/135?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-buena-park-california/

    May 21, 2021 at 21:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Google Marketing Consultant

    Great site you've got here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    https://www.nyumon.net/script/sc/redirect.php?id=393&url=http://affordableranking.com

    May 21, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. ambulance repair

    Good article! We are linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing.

    https://www.efilmcritic.com/ads/adclick.php?bannerid=6&zoneid=2&source=feature&dest=https://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-battery-repair-near-me/

    May 21, 2021 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. rv slide out roof repair

    After checking out a few of the blog articles on your web page, I seriously appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my web site too and let me know how you feel.

    http://www.hammer.if.tv/cgi/search/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=2613&url=https://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-mattress-repair-near-me

    May 21, 2021 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. JebgEncox

    cheap medications https://pharmacylo.com/ pharmacy prescription

    May 22, 2021 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Inspection California

    http://www.canada.com/scripts/go.aspx?g=vancouversun&n=subscribe_link_relatedlinks&u=https://ocrv.mobi/rv-repair-shop-san-dimas-california

    May 22, 2021 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Bathroom Orange County

    Great article. I'm going through a few of these issues as well..

    http://music-style.info/music-style/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=7897&url=https://hotnewsindia.com/boeng-plane-crash-iran-usa/

    May 22, 2021 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. AnooEncox

    how to buy viagra in hyderabad http://llviagra.com/ ar viagra veikia moteris

    May 22, 2021 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Local Marketing Consultants

    https://www.hiranoya-web.com/b2/htsrv/login.php?redirect_to=https://www.affordableranking.com

    May 22, 2021 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. FmrfEncox

    order original cialis online http://cialisee.com/ buy brand cialis 20 mg

    May 22, 2021 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. trailer body repair

    Howdy, I believe your site could be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent website!

    http://j-friends.jp/cgi/search/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=8555&url=ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-maintenance-near-me/

    May 22, 2021 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. BbshMile

    how viagra works https://loxviagra.com/ viagra duration

    May 22, 2021 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. JebgEncox

    online pharmacy australia paypal universal drugstore best online pharmacy stores

    May 22, 2021 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. rv cabinets and furniture

    http://rd.fresheye.com/opg/web/1/?go=https://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-blinds-repair-near-me/

    May 22, 2021 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Dennis Lakatos

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl authors and blogs

    http://adolit.blogspot.com/2006/04/out-of-school-into-schools.html

    May 23, 2021 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. chloroquineorigin

    aralen chloroquine arechin hcq https://chloroquineorigin.com/

    May 23, 2021 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Bathroom Riverside

    https://web28.werkbank.bayern-online.de/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?url=http://ocrvcenter.biz/rv-repair-shop-hermosa-beach-california

    May 23, 2021 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Upgrades Orange County

    https://qingms.com/link.php?url=https://ynwa.news/?p=11896

    May 23, 2021 at 07:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LebnEncox

    express pharmacy https://xlnpharmacy.com/ online pharmacy 365

    May 23, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. combigan

    brimonidine tartrate buy generic combigan

    May 23, 2021 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Tembepteriope

    cost of cialis https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ buy tadalis tadalafil price walmart prescription tadalafil online

    May 23, 2021 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. tausAffessy

    tadalafil price walmart https://cttadalafil.com/ – cialis without prescription side effects of tadalafil where to buy cialis without prescription cheapest tadalafil cost

    May 23, 2021 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Toilets California

    http://cs.odu.edu/~mln/teaching/cs518-f08/?method=display&redirect=http://ingenieurleistungenreiter.de/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=4&t=2900&limitstart=63700

    May 24, 2021 at 01:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Social Media Marketing Services

    https://www.defrancis.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://affordableranking.com

    May 24, 2021 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Local Marketing Firms

    That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

    https://topyoungmodel.info/cgi-bin/out.cgi?id=114&l=top57&t=100t&u=https://www.affordableranking.com/

    May 24, 2021 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Video Marketing Consultant

    I like reading through a post that will make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

    http://matomex.com/dir/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=1406&url=https://internetmarketingmontana.com/

    May 24, 2021 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Social Media Marketing Experts

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a coworker who was conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your web site.

    http://matomex.com/dir/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=1406&url=http://postfallsvideographer.com

    May 24, 2021 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Tembepteriope

    https://tadagatadalafil.com/ buy cialis pills where to get tadalafil buy generic cialis online with mastercard generic cialis tadalafil

    May 24, 2021 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RebfZisse

    cialis reliable sites http://rcialisgl.com/ – grapefruit cialis cheapest cialis in australia

    May 24, 2021 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. tausAffessy

    cialis without prescription tadalafil cost walmart where to buy generic cialis online safely https://tadalafilol.com/

    May 24, 2021 at 22:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Forklift Rental

    Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a superb article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and never manage to get anything done.

    https://mjsa.org/bg_track?id=43510&result_id=85140&url=https://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/yorba-linda-forklifts/

    May 24, 2021 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Content Marketing Agency Near Me

    I love it when individuals come together and share opinions. Great site, continue the good work!

    https://www.socsoc.co/cpc/?a=21234&c=longyongb&u=https://affordableranking.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 01:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Forklift Cylinders Los Angeles

    Very good article. I'm experiencing many of these issues as well..

    http://salesnews.qantas.com/public/m/closed?msLRR=http://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/manitou-forklift-repair-orange-county-california

    May 25, 2021 at 03:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Internet Marketing Companies Near Me

    http://www.top50-solar.de/newsclick.php?id=109338&link=https://affordableranking.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. SEO Marketing Agency

    https://sinetic.ru/bitrix/redirect.php?goto=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Social Media Marketing Service

    https://www.ladygamer.jp/ws/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=299&url=https://www.postfallsvideographer.com

    May 25, 2021 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Social Media Marketing Market

    http://emptycage.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Leave a Reply to LbsoZisse


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.