Helping your child reduce tension, stress and anxiety

Parentree-editors 2009-06-15 08:59:02

Children also have deep emotions and often feel tension, stress and anxiety just like adults do. This is a worrying sign for their health in later life as these emotions contribute to significant deterioration in physical and mental health.  Here are some ways you can help your child modify their behaviour.

Children learn from us - Be a role model

Children learn their emotions and behaviour from us. When you react calmly to situations where you encounter difficulty - while driving, when children create trouble etc., - children also learn how to react calmly. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it, explain it to your children and tell them how you are going to fix it rather than worrying about the effect of it. Sometimes, the negative effect is irreversible (like if you hit your car against a pillar in the parking lot) but you can tell them that you have resolved to be as careful as possible rather than worrying about a small dent on the car.

Focus on fun, not on winning or losing

When you play with children, focus on having fun, not on just teaching them something or about winning or losing.  In games where the player loses pieces, be very sportive when you lose pieces. For example, when playing Ludo, you can say "I know I can roll a six and come out again" instead of "Oh no, I got cut. Now I cannot win". When playing sports like badminton, focus on the fun of running around, and appreciate the effort children put in, rather than merely counting points.

Family fights

Family fights, especially between parents, are a great source of stress to children who cannot fully comprehend the situation and therefore assume that something bad is going to happen.  If you have arguments with your spouse, please do so behind closed doors.

Let children make mistakes, don't scold them for making mistakes

Often what we consider to be easy maybe very difficult for children to do. When we think it is easy and we see children making a mistake, we tend to scold them.  Scolding becomes worse, especially if they make the same mistakes again and again. However, instead of helping the child learn the right way, this scolding makes them afraid to make mistakes. When children become afraid of making mistakes, they feel a lot of stress whenever they try to do something, for fear of making a mistake.

Ignore small problems

As parents, our role is help the child grow up into a good, caring, hardworking human being. This is the long term goal. Focus on the long term goal rather than on all the small stuff they do.

Do not nitpick little things like how they hold a pencil, or whether the letter has been written correctly or how they tie their shoelaces. Point out to them how you do it, but do not keep correcting every small deviation from perfection. Eventually, they will learn and adapt.

Talk about the happenings around you in a measured tone

Many Indian newspapers and television channels seem to specialize in sensationaizing bad news - shrieking reporters, gruesome pictures etc., As children become older, we cannot shield them from these. Let them see it (to a certain extent) and then talk about what happened. Speak about natural disasters and what causes them, bombings and who does them, accidents and why they happen. Children have to learn that these things do happen but there is little one can do to control them and beyond normal precautions, one should not worry too much.

Even if your child is already tense or stressed, they can be easily helped. See the techniques above and check if there are things you can change in how you deal with your child and what you can practice in addition to what you are doing. With your help, your child can easily adapt their behaviour and  become less tense, stressed and anxious. However, if you feel that your child is extremely tense, stressed or anxious, do not hesitate to seek help from a child psychologist.  If left without treatment, tension, stress and anxiety contribute significantly to future mental and physical health problems.


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