Childhood is a special time. With it comes a wave of hormones, emotions and finding ways to figure out who you are. For some kids, it is a time of conflict, unrest and anxiety. Navigating friendships, identity and finding your voice is no small task!
As a parent, you will naturally have concerns about your child. Finding ways to keep your kid safe as they face stress and anxiety may seem overwhelming to you. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep your child’s stress down to a minimum.
Have some strategies in place
Pushing the pause button on stress may be one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
According to the Young Minds charity, these strategies may help when your child is feeling agitated or unreasonable:
- Breathe together: Slowly counting to five as you breathe in and then counting again as you breathe out will help your child’s body to relax.
- Have a go-to place or person in mind that helps your kid relax: This could be a simple memory of a favourite place (e.g. holiday destination, grandparents house or favourite place in nature); or a physical memento they can hold in their hand.
- Physical reassurance: Having you nearby, a gentle hug or holding your kid’s hand may help to soothe your child.
- Stimulate all five senses: Using what your child can touch, see, hear, smell and taste can help reduce the intensity of their anxiety. So think about all five senses together and break it down: five things to see, four things to hear, three things to touch, two things to smell and one thing to hear.
Feeling grounded in a moment can instantly reduce your kid’s feelings of stress and anxiety. Whatever happens, you’re in it together.
Quality of sleep
Life can be hard enough without facing it with little to no sleep. Just like you, your child needs the right amount of shut-eye to function!
As you sleep, your body and mind work to restore damaged cells and rest tired muscles throughout the night. Without enough sleep, your body is in overdrive as it tries to catch up. As a result, you are more susceptible to stress and anxiety.
Switching off at bedtime might be one of your kid’s most significant stumbling blocks. It might be that they are not getting enough exercise in the day or overstimulating their mind just before the point of sleep. Whatever it is, overcoming anxiety at bedtime may be what your child needs.
So, talk it out
Let your kid spill all their woes and worries to you – a problem shared is a problem halved after all. If your child feels comfortable talking to you about their daily life, they are more likely to feel less stressed.
Don’t go to bed too late
To get the most out of bedtime, your child needs to go to bed at a reasonable time. You can find a helpful guide to children’s sleep requirements on the NHS website here.
Angsty teens and tantruming toddlers are one thing but having the screen on too late to fuel their overstimulated brain is another! Switching the TV off an hour before bed is incredibly beneficial. That way, your child can focus on something more calming ahead of going down for the night – reading a book, drawing, or listening to music.
Feeling safe and secure in your own space is quite a big deal for kids. Anything from letting them have creative control over their bedroom (from a certain age!) to having familiar photos, toys and blankets around are all part of it.
When sleep becomes an issue, a weighted blanket for children may help to ease anxious thoughts. Designed to make you feel secure and comforted as you sleep, a weighted blanket stimulates deep pressure. So, you are essentially having a warm hug as you drift off.
Having friends at school is one thing, but seeing them and speaking to them in your own environment is another. Relationships are vital to your child’s social understanding and development. So encourage friendships where possible.
After all, bonding moments with friends and family help us feel loved, wanted and happy!
Connect with nature
Watching your kid’s mind wander as they watch their favourite TV show or fight zombies in post-war Germany on the XBOX may look like they are having the time of their life. But sometimes stepping outside of your comfort zone and reconnecting with nature is good for the soul.
Walking, hiking, cycling, nature swimming, kayaking, rock climbing – you name it, most things are possible outside of your home! Encouraging your child to experience the wonders of nature will help reduce stress and calm anxiety. Plus, they are more likely to have a better night’s sleep!
Keeping your kid safe in today’s world is a job in itself. From pandemics to maintaining friendships, our children have a lot to face. With a few simple strategies in place to keep anxiety and stress at bay, nothing is impossible!