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. Internet Marketing Companies Near Me

    I used to be able to find good info from your blog posts.

    http://www.ric.edu/Pages/link_out.aspx?target=https://internetmarketingnevada.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. rv technician near me

    I like reading an article that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

    http://sitebox.mailus.ru/requestform.php?success=1&referrer=http://ocrv.rocks/rv-repair-shop-arcadia-california

    June 5, 2021 at 01:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. minute clinic near me

    http://jennaswish.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=reviewnearme.com

    June 5, 2021 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Nercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me

    http://www.response-o-matic.com/thank_you.php?u=http://sprintervanrepairnearme.com/&t=visit+our+website

    June 5, 2021 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dodge Sprinter Repair Shops

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I really believed you'd have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.

    http://testphp.vulnweb.com/redir.php?r=https://sprinterrepairnearme.com

    June 5, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Alyssa Stolarski

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 5, 2021 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. what is hydroxychloroquine

    heart rate watch walmart plaquenil hydroxychloroquine chloroquinolone

    June 5, 2021 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Repair Sprinter Seat

    http://www.radioactiveindia.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprinterrepairnearme.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. best paint shops near me

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Spending some time and actual effort to make a superb articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get anything done.

    http://sportadmin.se/SSO/?REF=https://ocrvcenter.co/rv-repair-shop-mission-hills-california

    June 5, 2021 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. tobacco shop near me

    http://econmod.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.reviewnearme.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. chloroquine diphosphate

    does hydroxychloroquine require a prescription chloroquine side effects hydroxychloroquine 200 mg

    June 5, 2021 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Start Error Mercedes Sprinter Repair

    http://fazendin.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleettruckrepairshop.com

    June 6, 2021 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. tadalafil peptides

    canada generic tadalafil tadalafil vs cialis reviews tadalafil medication

    June 6, 2021 at 07:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. oc truck shop

    http://cmdllc.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvcenter.biz/

    June 6, 2021 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Carly Derrer

    siege. I have nothing.

    https://islapapel.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/wcejjbx5vdqvt5z.html

    June 6, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sprinter Van Ecu Repair

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.engineeringdesign-inc.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.sprintervanrepair.com/

    June 6, 2021 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. High Roof Sprinter Repair Panels

    https://www.rya.org.uk/pages/redir.axd?url=http://ocrv.us/rv-repair-shop-eastvale-california

    June 6, 2021 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. EncoxGtv

    revive rx pharmacy mexican pharmacy weight loss why are canadian pharmacies closing

    June 7, 2021 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. appliance stores near me

    Saved as a favorite, I love your site!

    http://ww41.qzyxya.devaintart.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=masternearme.com

    June 7, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. CrulkAsd

    cialis super active real online store buy cialis 10 tab cheap cialis pills

    June 7, 2021 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Jeanette Breckenstein

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 7, 2021 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. EncoxDev

    canadian pharmacies selling cialis rules for taking prescription drugs on airplane kamagra online pharmacy

    June 7, 2021 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. EncoxHtf

    buy generic cialis online cheap cialis coupons 2018 buy generic cialis paypal

    June 7, 2021 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. wall paint shops near me

    https://www.nfaap.org/sso/sso.aspx?nfredirect=https://ocrv.xyz/rv-repair-shop-sunland-tujunga-california

    June 7, 2021 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rv upholstery

    You have made some good points there. I checked on the web for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

    http://se03.cside.jp/~webooo/zippo/naviz.cgi?jump=82&url=http://ocrvcenter.net/rv-remodel-near-me

    June 7, 2021 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Plumbing Near Me

    http://www.slack-redir.net/link?url=http://www.handtucher.net/shopping/business_and_economy/business_libraries/science_and_technology/education/bibliographies/recreation_and_sports/aviation/?s=H

    June 7, 2021 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. dent devil san diego

    Good day! I could have sworn Iíve visited your blog before but after browsing through some of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyhow, Iím certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

    http://historyhub.history.gov/external-link.jspa?url=http://papillonsalapage.fr/index.php?/guestbook&start=11250

    June 7, 2021 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. MileSwa

    cialis and pay pal cialis uk online cialis canadian purchase

    June 8, 2021 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. EncoxAni

    highest rated canadian pharmacy drugs online canada online pharmacy reddit

    June 8, 2021 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. toy hauler upgrades

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing issues with your RSS. I donít know why I can't join it. Is there anybody having identical RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    http://fast.accesstrade.com.vn/deep_link/4348611826491973833?url=http://ocrvcenter.mobi/rv-repair-shop-dana-point-california

    June 8, 2021 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. EncoxHtf

    cialis free trial once a year buying cialis on line can you take ibuprofen with cialis

    June 8, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Sprinter Black Death Repair

    http://e.nm.com/nw40/c2.php?NWPR/25216049/72909/H/N/V/http://ocrv.rocks/rv-interior-remodeling-near-me

    June 8, 2021 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Restoration Los Angeles

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through troubles with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody having similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    http://www.smccd.edu/disclaimer/redirect.php?url=http://www.airconditionerrepairinnag33672.boyblogguide.com/3133156/top-guidelines-of-rv-repair-parts-near-me

    June 8, 2021 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. motorhome repair shops near me

    Very good post. I am experiencing a few of these issues as well..

    http://www.dmca.com/Protection/Status.aspx?ID=edc817fd-d796-4c84-abb8-d1cb5b2e3719&refurl=https://truthinplainsight.com/timeline-to-tyranny/

    June 8, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Zisseloh

    no prescription cialis cialis viagra difference how to save money on cialis

    June 9, 2021 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Terrence Claude

    Popular photos and floating locks

    http://paradisein.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Explorer-Ii-1655-Patek-Philippe-Fake-Erkennen-Howto-Spot-A.html

    June 9, 2021 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Drew Atienza

    Good info. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have book-marked it for later!

    http://travisf07u4.frewwebs.com/4865647/the-basic-principles-of-rv-body-shop-near-me

    June 9, 2021 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Shana Steinhaus

    You are so awesome! I do not believe I have read a single thing like that before. So good to discover someone with a few original thoughts on this issue. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

    https://www.treasury.gov/cgi-bin/redirect.cgi/?https://www.gunnerc96t5.blogsmine.com/4410038/top-guidelines-of-local-marketing-services

    June 9, 2021 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Social Media Marketing Agencies Near Me

    http://tax.grandcountyutah.net/grandcountyutah/list-detail.php?m=w2y2542464w2c4&url=https://www.internetmarketingmontana.com/

    June 9, 2021 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Johnie Lampe

    http://juliusn05h8.imblogs.net/50197393/top-guidelines-of-local-marketing-services

    June 9, 2021 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. buy chloroquine

    hcq medication chloroquine cancer drugs.com hydroxychloroquine

    June 9, 2021 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Erminia Oard

    After going over a number of the blog articles on your web site, I honestly like your technique of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my web site as well and tell me how you feel.

    http://help.dedecms.com/plus/player/index.php?url=https://sethp04b4.laowaiblog.com/4045215/facts-about-repair-shop-revealed

    June 9, 2021 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. rv repair

    https://eridan.websrvcs.com/System/Login.asp?id=48747&Referer=https://www.manuel2i2k1.blogdosaga.com/3495400/top-latest-five-rv-repairs-near-me-urban-news

    June 9, 2021 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. CrulkAsd

    generic cialis best price cialis tadalafil 20mg cialis over the counter in mexico

    June 10, 2021 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Latrina Sims

    Hi there! This post couldnít be written much better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://andersone71x3.dbblog.net/31289626/a-secret-weapon-for-family-dentistry-near-me

    June 10, 2021 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Justin Forte

    http://images.google.be/url?q=http://arthurb59p9.blogpostie.com/24251830/5-easy-facts-about-roofing-contractor-near-me-described

    June 10, 2021 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. rv repair service near me

    http://tools.folha.com.br/print?url=http://www.cash1c6z5.ourcodeblog.com/3493877/getting-my-rv-repairs-near-me-to-work

    June 10, 2021 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Verda Docker

    https://miloy74o3.thekatyblog.com/4039568/5-essential-elements-for-rv-roof-repair-by-my-location

    June 10, 2021 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. rv repair

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thanks for providing these details.

    https://clients2.google.com/url?q=https://www.hm2001.de/forum/member.php?action=profile&uid=100850

    June 10, 2021 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Son Macknight

    There is definately a lot to find out about this issue. I like all the points you made.

    http://www.shinobi.jp/etc/goto.html?http://josuet13x2.vblogetin.com/5276547/rv-awning-repair-orange-county-secrets

    June 10, 2021 at 18:53 | 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 oc fleet


 

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.