Help Your Children Chill Out

Overscheduling. Rushed families. High parental expectations. Goading from peers. Getting into the best college. Whew! Today's kids face enormous stress.

Kids must cope with all the issues, such as violence or global warming, that stress out adults. They must also handle additional stresses added by their parents and the media.

The normal stresses of childhood are compounded by the pressure to succeed, whether it is at play or in academics. Media and advertisements reinforce the need to be perfect and get ahead. This pressure is very difficult for the developing mind to absorb and process.

Although you may help cause your children's stress, you can also help ease it:

  • Model good behavior. Show your children how you care for yourself by eating right, exercising, sleeping well, and dealing with your own emotions.

  • Make sure younger children have time to play. Play lets kids think, dream, and relax.

  • Help kids build coping skills at an early age. Teach children to avoid some problems, let others go, or break tasks into small parts they can do more easily.

  • Redefine success. Let children know you want them to do their best and be kind, generous, creative, productive, and innovative adults. A thriving learning environment is as important as the prestige of an academic setting.

  • Support your children in making age-appropriate decisions. Teach them to set boundaries and manage their time. Work with them on problem-solving techniques, and allow them to learn from the process of making a mistake. This will help them develop a resiliency to stress.

Kids with good coping skills are more likely to become strong, independent adults who live balanced, fulfilling lives.