Raise your hand if your family has had a big ole dose of stress….

We get it. The past year has been filled with stress and our kids feel it too. A lot of times children don’t know how to handle their internal stress, and they lash out at us, siblings and sometimes even their own friends. While good parenting often involves trying to shield our children from additional stress, it really is unavoidable. We have to find healthy, helpful ways to teach our kids how to recognize and deal with stress in their lives. Here are a couple of tips we can use to help:

1. Acknowledge the source of the stress: help your child accurately identify what’s stressing them out. Don’t minimize how or why they feel that way, even if it seems silly to you. Sometimes allowing your child to feel heard and understood can often help lower the stress they are feeling.

2. Help them understand their feelings: once you’ve identified the source of the stress, let your child talk about how they feel. Often emotions are complicated and this can give your child a safe space to talk about things that might be serious, such as being bullied or feeling uncomfortable. Ensure they can share these emotions without feeling judged or ridiculed.

3. Make sure stress isn’t out of hand: make sure you aren’t pushing your child too far. It’s our job to help support our children to make sure they have what they need to deal with stress without over-taxing themselves.

4. Promote a healthy lifestyle: stress can be brought on or made worse by how your child is taking care of themselves. Stress is exacerbated by a host of physical influences, including hormones and sleep. Even overindulging in junk food or drinking too much caffeine can interfere with healthy reactions to stress. The simple solution is generally healthy living – make sure that your child is getting plenty of sleep, hydrating and fueling properly, and exercising enough.