- Mental Health
Helping Your Child Discover What is Causing Stress in their Lives
Stress is something at we will all find ourselves having to deal with at one time or another in our lives. There is just no escaping the fact that if you are alive there will be stress in your life – both good and bad.
Until you assist your child in discovering what their stressors are, you will not be able to help your child deal with those same stresses.
Using Art as a Stress Discovery Tool
Sometimes children, especially younger children, cannot verbalize what is causing them stress or how they are feeling stressed. Asking them about it can be frustrating for both of you – you because you feel they are refusing to answer, and them because they lack the thought processes to put into words what or how they are feeling.
Many times when they cannot find the words, they can create a drawing that clearly illustrates what they are feeling. Work together on this. Grab a couple blank sheets of paper – one for you and one for them. Ask your child to draw about what is making them feel unhappy or sad or angry? You start drawing and encourage them to do the same. While drawing, talk to your child about your drawing and ask them about theirs. Casually ask about the things they are drawing, their choice of colors and what the drawing means to them. Then listen – really listen – to what they share with you.
Using Discussion as a Stress Discovery Tool
When talking with your child, you do not want to force them to talk about what is bothering them. Consider creating opportunities for them to share their issues with you, such as car trips, walks together or bedtime.
And then instead of asking, “What’s wrong?” ask more specific questions such as, “How are things going between you and Paul?” Paul is your son’s best friend and he has spoken of him in a couple days. This might be a good indication that something is wrong. Or you might just ask, “How is Paul doing? I haven’t seen him in a few days. I hope he is not sick.”
Create opportunities to spend special one-on-one time with your child. Find an activity, passion, or hobby which you can do alone with your child. Not only will this time create a special bond between you and your child, it will afford an opportunity for your child to talk to you about what is going on in their life. And you can have fun at the same time! If talking is fun, they are more likely to do it.
No matter what your child shares with you, it is important that you do not criticize what they share with you. If you do, your child will learn not to tell you things soon stop sharing with you. If this happens you will not be able to help them learn the strategies they need to learn to deal with stress.
Using Active Listening as a Stress Discovery Tool
At the end of the above paragraph, I stressed that we should “really listen”. Really listening means that we are actively listening. To actively listen means to be actively involved in the process of listening. It requires our full undivided attention, and it generally does not require us to share more than an occasional affirmative to let them know that they still have our attention.
Active listening is very important in letting a child know that they are important to you. Many times they do not want any advice and they do not want us to try and solve or fix the problem for them. They just want to know that they are being heard.
Sometimes this can be hard for them to do, especially face to face. Sharing a quiet activity with them such as going for a walk allows them the time they need to share in an environment that may be less intense that facing someone face to face – especially if they are feeling doubts about themselves, and fear what they might see in your face while they are sharing, or if they are feeling guilt.
What To Do With This Knowledge
Until you know what the stressors are in your child's life, you may not know what avenue to pursue in helping them to deal with their stress. For example, if is is school, maybe they need a tutor. If it is being bullied, this will require a different type of coping skill.
Finding your child's stressors arms you with knowledge. With this knowledge, you can guide you child to a solution to their stresses. A child who is able to deal with their stressors successfully, is a child who is healthier and happier.
Once you know what the stressors are, you can deal with them, Kids and Stress ~ Stress Management for Kids. Check it out!
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Copyright © 2012 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)
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