It’s important to recognize that children are highly prone to stress just as adults are. According to the CDC, 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety. The good news is that there are many stress-reducing activities that you can practice with your children at home.
During the current pandemic we are experiencing, managing stress is crucial for the health and happiness of our children. To get you started on your stress-busting journey, try the following activities.
Baking is a wholesome and creative activity that can help both adults and kids to destress. Your children will likely enjoy the creative process and the yummy results! Remember to keep it simple for your kid’s benefit. The last thing you want is to attempt something too complicated and leave them unable to enjoy the activity. Some of the tastiest and easiest cakes to make include rocky road, banana bread, and carrot cake. If you want to skip the baking part, then try making desserts like banoffee pie or cheesecake. To make the activity even more enjoyable, purchase baker’s hats and put on some upbeat music as you bake!
Painting is both therapeutic and calming, especially nature painting. There’s nothing quite like the swirl of the paintbrush amongst bright colors to lift your spirits! Order yourself some supplies online including paper or canvas, brushes, aprons, and an array of paints. Remember to put plenty of old newspaper down first so that you don’t ruin your furniture. If your kids would like to paint something specific, try ordering a paint by number kit. If not, it’s just as much fun to paint freestyle. Those concerned about the chemicals in traditional paints can try purchasing eco-paints for kids. These are kinder to both skin and the environment.
Exercise is the best way to destress, and dancing is as fun as exercise gets! Put on your kids’ favorite tunes and create a home disco. Let your kids dance around or if they prefer a routine try ‘Just Dance’. The game is generally aimed at slightly older children, so if your children are younger, try a YouTube video instead. The Zumba Kids Channel has some great routines that they will love. Join in with your children and make it a real fun family dance off.
Yoga is a fantastic way to reduce stress. Many studies have linked yoga to an improved sense of calm and relaxation. You can get some cute kids yoga mats online, and try a YouTube video on the ‘Yoga For Kids Channel’. There’s also a great app called Super Stretch Yoga that helps kids learn using super hero characters.
Yoga isn’t just great for relaxation, it’s also perfect for improving strength, flexibility, and balance. It’s the ideal activity for family exercise, as all levels and ages can practice together in a group. On a nice sunny day, it can be lovely to practice yoga outside in the sunshine. Of course, any exercise helps us to destress, so if your kids don’t like yoga, let them choose something that they do enjoy. It’s helpful for your children to develop a good exercise routine now to ensure that they have these healthy priorities later in life.
Meditation exercises are particularly useful when your kids are feeling agitated and need to calm down. To help your kids practice meditation have them lie down on the floor and practice deep breathing. Next, play them a guided imagery recording; you can find these online or try an app like ‘Mindful Powers’. Guided imagery recordings involve listening to and imagining yourself in a relaxing scene. It could be the rainforest or the beach on a gorgeous summer day. Exercises like this can make children drowsy, so it can be helpful just before bedtime. Once your children have experienced meditation, they will likely benefit from improved sleep, too.
Spending time in the natural world is one of the best ways to relax. Visit the local forest with your children and take your time walking around, stopping to observe and talk about the trees, flowers, and animals. It can be a great idea to collect a few of the items you find, from leaves to twigs and small stones, and use these to make a piece of artwork when you get home. There are many benefits of technology for children, yet too much time using technology can have an adverse effect on children’s health. Indulging in nature-related activities can help your children achieve balance. Whether it’s climbing trees (safely), birdwatching, or picking flowers, you can help your children enjoy and appreciate nature.
Creative expression allows children to release stress and unwind. If you have musical instruments at home, encourage your kids to take time away from the television to enjoy playing them. Artistic activities have long been associated with releasing tension, whether it’s singing, dancing, or painting. When we indulge in art, we allow ourselves to fully relax. If your children are missing their usual musical lessons, many providers are now offering children’s music lessons online.
Sensory play is especially relaxing for young children since at this age they are still learning about sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Simply providing them with a sensory play box can allow them to feel calmer. You can make your own sensory box using items like musical instruments, cotton balls, play dough, and feathers. As your child plays, talk to them about the feelings and sounds of the objects. For further inspiration, check out these sensory play box ideas.
Writing in a journal is a fantastic way to release emotions, problem solve, and store happy memories. Buy your children some lovely journal books and encourage them to write as often as they like. It’s helpful to explain the concept of journaling. Be sure to tell them that it can help them to write down their emotions when stressed. Journaling is especially helpful for those children who find it hard to talk about their feelings. Sometimes this can be the case with slightly older children.
General Healthy Practices
Last, but certainly not least, the easiest way to help your children reduce stress is to ensure that they have a healthy lifestyle. Our diets influence the way that we feel mentally, so it’s important to get plenty of fruits, vegetables, and nutrients. Exercise is vital to keep endorphin levels high and to feel calm. Besides this, keep on top of your children’s regular health check-ups, from dental visits to eye tests. If your child wears glasses they may need their prescription updated from time to time. When you are choosing their glasses beware of progressive lens problems. Some believe progressive lenses are better, however, they can cause issues when you first start wearing them. Of course, physical and mental health are connected, which is why it’s important to consider both.
Reducing stress during the coronavirus is a top priority. It’s important to regularly check in with your children to ask them how they are feeling and answer any questions they may have. Besides this, now is a good time to boost the immune system with all the right foods and enough sleep.
How do you help your children cope with stress?