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It is normal for kids to go through a certain degree of stress and anxiety as they grow up. This is especially so during this pandemic which has affected everyone in one way or another. However, as children are still learning to communicate effectively, it is not easy to recognise when kids are stressed out. There could be short-term indications such as acting out and mood swings. For example, pre-schoolers can have separation anxiety and as they grow older that can be attributed to academic and social pressures. Parents need to take note of these changes and work towards helping them get cope with stress and anxiety.

Here are a few ideas that parents can apply to help children cope with stress.

1. Communicate

When children are stressed, they often find it a struggle to express themselves. In situations like this, it is a good practice for parents to start a conversation by asking how their day was.  No matter how busy your schedule may be, lend an ear and show that they are being given attention. Let them know that as parents, you are with them through their ups and downs. This build trust and opens up communication channels as they know that they can rely on their parents anytime and that you understand how they’re feeling. This is an important first step as you can then help your child by listening and giving them solutions to their problems. The most important thing here is to let your children know that they can come to you anytime with anything.

2. Spend time together

Studies have shown that a strong social support network can relieve stress. Which is why, it is important for the whole family to spend time together as it is essential for a child’s mental development. It does not have to be only during meal times as there are many fun activities that can be done together as a family. Activities like painting, exercising or even simple activities like taking a stroll in the park. This allows everyone to bond together as a family.

3. Be a role model

Children learn most from parents and a positive role model will help with shaping a child’s future in a healthy way. A parent’s lifestyle, choice of friends, relationship with family members would knowingly or unknowingly be learnt and picked up by a child. Parents should control what they talk about in front of kids and avoid yelling or the use of profanities. Show children that good emotional control and problem solving are effective methods to deal with a difficult situation.

4. Giving rewards.

As you observe a child overcome their fears, or make an effort to face the things that frightens them, do reward them for their bravery. Providing a positive feedback or a word of praise will motivate and give courage to a child to confront their fears. A child will take such responses as positive reinforcement, which will eventually boost their confidence to try their level best to overcome any challenges before them.

5. Encourage a good sleep routine

Last but not least, set a fixed bedtime schedule or sleep routine to help them get a good night sleep. It is good to encourage children to relax before bedtime. This can be easily done by reading a book or even listening to calm and gentle music, which will help them wind down easily. Instilling healthy sleep habits now will definitely contribute to a healthy growth in the child in the long run.

Anxiety and stress can lead to more serious and chronic issues, if it is not treated early. With anxiety and stress management techniques, children will learn how to manage their anxiety level and learn how to handle situations better. They key aspect to remember for parents is to always be the pillar of support to their child!