16.1.17

Managing Stress in Children

by Megan de Beyer

Sudhir came home to his mother complaining, "Sudhir, you promised to come in early to look after your brother while I cook a meal, where were you?" Sudhir felt his stomach tighten. He thought of his teacher scolding him, "You were meant to hand in your project today. If you don't give it to me in the morning, I will not accept it!" Just then his sister came rushing at him, "You promised to walk with me to the shop to buy my crayons, where were you? You always let me down."

Sudhir thought his head would burst. He had an instant headache and a sore tummy. He also felt like he couldn't breathe properly. The only thing he wanted to do was run away. Sudhir was in a stressful situation. He felt he had so much to do that he couldn't seem to get anything done. Stress arises due to one's perception of whether or not one can meet the demands being made on them. Stress is the body's reaction to situations that overload, frighten, irritate or endanger a person.

STRESS-BUSTING TRICKS AND TIPS

Balanced Healthy Diet: Proper eating with lots of fruits and vegetables and no junk food contributes to a feeling of well-being. Overweight or underweight children do not always handle stress well.

Exercise: Physical exercise on a daily basis (of any kind) is good for getting rid of tension that the body accumulates.

Time Management: A study time-table will allow children to manage their time and prevent last-minute cramming and extra stress! This also helps them break down loads of work into small, manageable blocks that can be dealt with one by one.

Setting Realistic Goals: This encourages children to become well-organised and self-disciplined. Reward them at the end of each week for a goal reached.

Recreation: A good balance between work and play is essential. Laughter and playtime produces "happy" hormones, which when released into the bloodstream, give off feelings of well-being.

Relaxation: Taking time to relax will give children more energy to tackle tasks. One cannot be tense and relaxed at the same time.

Learning to Relax: Accompany your children and follow these simple steps:
  • Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful scene that relaxes you.
  • Strengthen your visualisation by imagining scents, sounds and tastes.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through the mouth while you continue to imagine the calm picture in your mind.
  • Do it for a few minutes. If you and your child know how to, meditate to calm your mind. This helps raise the oxygen level in the body and effectively reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.
Thinking Positive Thoughts: Encourage children to substitute negative, illogical, anxiety-producing thoughts with positive, logical, anxiety-reducing ones. They need to believe that they are supported by the people around them and trust that all will be well. 


Megan de Beyer is a practising psychologist. She has successfully developed three parenting courses: 'Strong Mothers-Strong Sons', 'Conscious and Compassionate Fathering' and 'Mothers and Daughters', which she offers at schools around the world. Megan is on the advisory board for the International Sisters Network and writes for iafrica.com.

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