Stress Management for Children and Teens- Dean - WI

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Stress Management for Children and Teens

Stress Management for Children and Teens

Children and teenagers often do not know when they are feeling stressed or what their triggers are. They can see major stressors, such as their parent's divorcing or having a big test coming up, but they often don't spot tension related to smaller problems, such as when they have a fight with a friend.

Children and adolescents can also have problems voicing their feelings and resolving issues. Instead, they may:

  • Have physical symptoms, such as a headache or a stomach ache
  • Show acting out behavior
  • Stop their usual activities

Many of the same skills that help adults with stress management also work well for children and teens. These include problem-solving, time management, being assertive, good nutrition and adequate sleep.

Importance of Relaxation

  • Helps one to keep anxiety under control so our thoughts become calmer. Then the child will be more able to apply his or her coping skills.

Ways of Relaxation

  • Listen to relaxing, peaceful music.
  • Using relaxing imagery. Ideas can include lying by the pool at a friend's house, lying on a picnic blanket, watching the sunset, floating in space, lying in front of a log fire, camping in the country or lying in a warm bed cuddled up to a puppy. Each person needs to find the imagery that works well for them. Describe exactly what can be seen in the picture, the sounds that can be heard, the smells that are present, and any sensations of touch.
  • Deep breathing exercises.
  • Yoga, Pilates or t'ai chi.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation exercises.

Factors Important in Learning Relaxation

  • Have the entire family practice relaxation so that the child does not feel singled out and can learn from watching others.
  • Realize that relaxation is a skill that takes a lot of practice and needs to be done regularly. It is no different than learning to play the piano or learning to swim.
  • Pick the right time to relax, when there are no other important things to do. Setting aside time before going to bed can work well.
  • Create a relaxing setting, but don't make it too comfortable so you fall asleep.
  • Keep it short and simple.

Helpful Books

  • The relaxation and stress reduction workbook for kids: help for children to cope with stress, anxiety, and transitions (2009). By Lawrence Shapiro, Robin Sprague, and Matthew McKay.

Helpful Relaxation Exercises

  • Indigo dreams: relaxation and stress management stories for children. By Lori Lite

Helpful Websites

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