Back to School Stress-Management

Back to School Stress-Management

An overview of Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.’s (The Mindful Self-Express) article on helping your child with Back to School Stress-Management.

A review by Cristina Pereira. 
Edited by: Emily Bowman

The school year has commenced and your child is nervous, anxious about new beginnings, making friends, facing new teachers and harder subjects at hand. Not sure how to help your child with their Back to School Stress-Management?

Back to School Stress-Management

I think we have all been there, our child showing signs of social isolation, panic attacks or constant anxiety and we feel helpless, it’s almost as if they physically can not hear our attempt to soothe them, or maybe your little one’s nerves appear in a more subtle manner such as stomach aches, restlessness, fatigue, and bad moods.

It seems that there is an ever-increasing pressure on today’s children to perform and deliver.  In Melanie Greenberg’s article “A Back to School Stress-Management Toolkit for Teens”, she outlines a “2014 survey by the American Psychological Association [which reports that] teen stress exceeded that of adults that year (an average of 5.8 on a 10-point scale vs. 5.1 for adults).” These numbers are frightening. Why are our children more stressed out than adults? How can we help and most importantly prevent our kids from becoming engulfed by stress and anxiety?

According to Greenberg, “The top sources of stress for teens are school and getting into a good college. In today’s competitive environment, [the] pressure is high” to achieve above and beyond the norm, all at the cost of our children’s well being.

“The top sources of stress for teens are school and getting into a good college. In today’s competitive environment, [the] pressure is high”

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D.

Though “some stress is a normal part of life and can provide [the necessary] energy and motivation to work hard to reach goals, too much stress [can be] harmful for physical and mental health.” So then, how can we protect our children’s welfare when stress can be detrimental to their development? Greenberg recommends 3 strategies that seek too ‘normalize’ stress and aim to help children manage and work through stress and anxiety so that it does not negatively impact their wellbeing.

  1. Have your child distract himself. Prepare a list of time-limited activities that your child can do when s/he begins to stress out. This strategy will rewire the brain to focus on activity and not remain stagnate in anxiety mode. “Distraction engages the “on task” centers of your brain, which are different than the worry centers.”
  2. Help your child look at a situation from different viewpoints, to find angles that “seem less threatening”. We can also guide our children to try and envision a “future when the stressor is over or no longer present. This technique of imagining a successful future self may create more confidence to manage the stressor.”  This also helps them envision actions that they may do which could help change the outcome or envision scenarios that anxiety-mode had blinded them from before.
  3. Let’s show our children to accept the negative emotions they may feel and find ways to work through them so that they can continue to move forward. Also, “verbalizing the emotion can give them some distance and emotion regulation.”

Ultimately, Greenberg asks us to remove the negative connotations that ‘stress’ may carry and seek to normalize these feelings in the household, only then can we help our children work through this emotional state and teach them to manage and surpass these momentary anxieties.

See Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.’s full article here.

Lets converse…

  • Do you agree with Greenberg that stress is at times be necessary and beneficial for growth?
  • Do any of the mentioned tips fall in line with what you currently do at home?
  • What strategies do you use to try and prevent anxiety and freak-outs in your children?
  • How do you manage stress? Does your child emulate your stress management techniques?
  • Are there any tips that you believe you could improve to propel our children forward?

You can read more on helping your child to manage their stress in our post A SUCCESSUL SCHOOL YEAR. You might also like our 4 Teacher No Nos post link as well.

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Looking for a way to help you as a parent or teacher relax! We’ve got a few suggestions for you!

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