Children today are faced with many stressful situations at home, in school and beyond—but parents can play an important role in helping them learn how to cope, says work-life balance expert Dr. Kathleen Hall. The Peetes talk with Dr. Hall, director of the Stress Institute, about simple stress-busting tools parents can give their children.
Teach your children SELF care:
Serenity: Teach children that being calm and relaxed is the opposite of stress, which can cause negative physical, emotional and psychological symptoms, Dr. Hall says. To help children alleviate stress, encourage them to memorize a brief saying or positive affirmation they can repeat to themselves throughout the day or during stressful times, she says. Another proven technique is guided imagery: Tell your child to picture a relaxing place, then go there in their mind's eye when they feel stressed, she says.
Exercise: In addition to regular exercise, teach children a few stretches, breathing exercises or "chair-yoga" positions, which you can find in many books or online, she says. They should practice these moves before a test, sporting event or any other stressful activity.
Love: Dr. Hall says studies show that people who feel loved and have caring relationships live better, are happier and suffer from less depression. If your child is an introvert, consider getting him a pet or help him connect with a buddy, she says.
Food: Healthy foods help the mind and body function, which in turn helps children experience less stress, Dr. Hall says. "Teach them food is medicine, food changes your mood," she says. When children are young, she suggests teaching them basic health concepts, such as "the brighter the color [of fruits and vegetables], the less sick you'll be." As children get older, talk about the benefits of vitamins and nutrients.