Helping Children Stay Stress-Free

Today, more than ever before, children are subject to a lot of pressure – peer pressure, performance pressure and of course, pressure from within to keep up with all they have to do.  They set their own high standards for themselves, thanks to the competitive environment in which they grow up.  Even 96 out of 100 per cent is a low score when it comes to competing for all those entrance tests after Class X. Oh yes, the pressure is on in my household too.

Helping Children Stay Stress-Free

I was talking to one of my son’s classmate’s mothers and she was telling me how her daughter had the inherent need to excel in everything she did. Added to this, the desperation to maintain fitness, get high/full marks and so on. All this stems from the fear of not fitting in. As they tackle their own inner devils, they have other pressures – related to school. Much of it comes from parents, egging on their kids to achieve, achieve, achieve so that they can live up to their dreams. The parents’ dreams, sometimes, and not the children’s. This literally freaks the kids out and impacts everything they do.

Today, my son, who is a talented artist, was worried he couldn’t get a particular face right. From his imagination, on to the paper. Being the rather laid-back Mom that I am – I explained that some days are like that – and he could always have a go at it tomorrow. The face he had drawn looked pretty good to me. But it did not live up to his expectations. I reminded him he had done a lot for the day and told him to ease off and relax.  Sometimes that is not the ideal thing to say, as it only gets them more stressed.

How to help them relieve this pressure and stop it from growing worse?

It is important to ensure that children are emotionally and physically healthy. Some great ways are music, sports and exercise, a hobby or fun time with friends and family. Here is what we practice in our home:

1. Mealtimes together

We make it a point to have breakfast and dinner together. Lunch is a packed meal, usually. We also prepare the meal together sometimes and have a good time chatting about our day. This is a pleasant way to keep ourselves in a happy mood and encourage our son to express himself and lighten up after he is through with his schoolwork.

2. Getting enough sleep

With all that there is to do, the tendency to stay up late can easily become a habit. Getting enough sleep is important to stay healthy. And children need adequate sleep, especially teens. Regular bedtime, lights out and wake up times go a long way in ensuring this. The day looks so much brighter when we’re rested.

3. Be a friend

Teenagers need someone they feel comfortable with. As I grew up, my Mom was my favourite person when I needed a confidant or just to rave and rant. Sometimes, when the going is tough, talking about it is a big relief. I am glad that both my husband and I have a good relationship with my son and he is comfortable talking to either of us.

4. Encourage free time

It is not necessary to do something “productive” all the time. Just lazing for a while can be a great way to de-stress. Watching a movie, hanging out with friends, singing, playing music or simply listening to music can all be ways to unwind and relax.

5. Helping, volunteering

Doing things for others is a fantastic way to get rid of stress. No need to be an expert at something. It also takes the focus away from self while bringing on a sense of feel-good, which naturally leads to a good mood. Some ways my son does these are helping an elderly neighbour with something or spending time with them, reading to them, teaching younger kids, etc.

I am lucky to have a tactile and affectionate son – and cannot emphasize enough on how important it is to make teenagers feel loved – and know they’re loveable. While I am all for doing well at school and stuff, I think it is just as important to take time off. Ultimately, all parents want their children to be happy no matter how old they are. And luckily, we don’t have to try too hard to be happy!

What strategies do you recommend for children to stay stress-free?

Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom who relishes the joy of parenting and growing up with her son. She is a freelance writer, business blogger and social media enthusiast and loves DIY, Coffee, Music, Photography, Family, Friends and Life.  She believes that Happiness is a DIY Project. She blogs at www.vidyasury.com and tweets as @vidyasury.

  • This is such a wonderful post, Vidya! It gives great tips on how to stay connected with your stressed teenager and help alleviate the chaos they experience. A certain amount of stress is unavoidable with board exams. I think helping them plan their study hours is helpful. Then they can enjoy their play time guilt free. Though both my sons are younger, I am not obsessed with making every minute count for them towards learning. It also helps if a parent is less hyper because kids pick up cues from their parents’ body language. In today’s times, when cases of teen suicides are up, this is a welcome post.

    • Thank you, Rachna! It breaks my heart to see them all stressing so much over something they will sail through, most of the time 🙂 My son is quite cool, usually, but recently, I’ve started noticing the tension creeping up, mostly fearing .. what if something doesn’t happen? The first thing we did was make it a point to have a family date every day on the terrace at 6 pm to see the sunset. What a difference it has made! Just 30 minutes of glorious “doing nothing”

      You are perfectly right about children picking up cues from the parent. 😀 I am hoping fervently I am a decent example!

      Hugs and thanks again! Hope 2013 is going well for you!

      • I am sure you are, Vidya :). I have experienced very positive and warm vibes from you. I am sure Vidur is blessed to have a mom like you.

  • Amrita Thavrani

    Nice tips Vidya. Being friend always helps.

    • Thanks, Amrita – my Mother proved that to me over and over and I am so grateful for that. I only hope I am half as effective as her :-).

      Love your posts! Happy 2013!

  • Wonderful post Vidya!

    This sure is a topic most of us can relate to, especially those with kids!

    With both my teens – I sure know the stress they go through – every single day! Yes, if it’s not the pressure at school, it’s the pressure to live up to their own expectations – just as in your sons case, or then it’s the pressure of friend’s, or their teachers.

    Just like you, I also keep trying to soothe their worries by taking the above measures, which to quite an extent does help – provided they listen to you. 🙂 My elder one is a contrast in nature as compared to the younger one. One has high expectations from herself and is like Vidur, while the other is laid back, though for her it’s more of living up to the expectations of her friend’s and teachers. So, you can well imagine my state as I have to deal with both of them differently. 🙂

    I would like to add another tip that works well for me – to divert their attention to do something different from what they are struggling with, which at times helps them a great deal. It’s similar to taking a break, though keeping them occupied with doing other things helps them overcome the present problem they face.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Thank you, Harleena for your valuable comment. Yes, I know that it is a challenge, however enjoyable 🙂 Hobbies help in a big way, especially if they are passionate about them. Vidur is crazy about music and that’s a big bonus. Diverting their mind certainly helps! Thanks again!

  • Hi Vidya,

    Very informative post indeed. As a matter of fact the children are getting more stressed due to their mechanical routine. Parents who manage to spend quality time with the children on an every day basis will be able to de-stress them and keep them motivated.

  • Hi Vidya,

    Some great tips here. Mealtimes together are something we try and stick to wherever possible, especially dinners in the evening. It’s like a family ritual that provides connection and stability. I loved what you said about being a friend as well as a parent, too. So important.