Ten tips for supporting a child struggling with stress

Children can feel anxious or stressed for a number of reasons at different ages. Daran Bailey, a qualified Psychotherapist and the Wellness and Resilience Programme Lead at the Aster Foundation has shared some tips to help support a child when they may be struggling with stress.

Create a safe space for sharing: Make sure your child knows they can talk to you about anything without feeling judged. Sometimes it helps to think of where and when they have chosen to share their thoughts previously, this has been their comfort space so when possible replicate that situation.

Listen with care: Really pay attention when your child talks and let them know you understand and care about what they're going through even if you don’t have the answer it’s supportive to just say “I’m so glad that you told me, I want to you to know you are not alone with this from now”.

Teach relaxation tricks: Show them fun ways to calm down, like taking deep breaths and doing simple yoga poses. Also, listening to familiar music while dancing and singing is proven to have a calming effect on the mind.

Encourage healthy choices: If your child's mind is their engine and their stomach is the fuel tank you can help them by making healthy food choices wherever possible. 

Stick to a routine: Uncertainty is a key trigger for stress and anxiety so make daily routines together that are cosy and predictable. It helps your child feel secure and less worried.

Dial down stressors: If some things are too much for your child, try to find ways to make them easier or take breaks from them, our minds respond well to rewards so break down issues into smaller bite-size/more manageable portions with a reward at each stage.

Have fun together: Play games, do artsy stuff, or just hang out doing whatever makes your child happy. Create a feel-good album filled with reminders of successes like certificates and family pictures that remind them of who they are and how much they have achieved.

Show them how you cope: Let your child see you handling stress in healthy ways. They'll learn from your example.

Give loads of hugs and support: Remind your child how much you love them, no matter what. Your hugs and encouragement mean the world to them!

Get expert help if needed: No matter how strong your bond with your child is sometimes they struggle to share everything. If your child's stress feels too big for you to handle alone you aren’t failing and it's totally okay to ask a professional for help. They're there to make things better.

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