Last week was International Stress Awareness Week (07-11/11/22), and this year’s theme is working together to build resilience and reduce stress. At Arco Academy, we are passionate about empowering our staff and students to manage and cope with stress, building a valuable skillset of techniques that can help with tackling stress in all areas of their lives. We hope this article will help you to do the same.
Stress is your body’s reaction to help you deal with pressures or perceived threats. A small amount of stress is healthy and can motivate you to take action and get tasks completed, however, stress can easily become negative and spiral out of control.
High expectations and pressure to succeed, along with academic, social and family pressures can all play a role in triggering stress and anxiety in children and young people. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, 1 in 3 teens will experience some type of anxiety disorder, and those numbers are steadily rising. Yet only 30% seek treatment.
Anxiety can be extremely disruptive in children’s lives. It can mean sleepless nights, full-blown panic attacks, feeling physically sick, missing school and losing out on opportunities. It can also make it difficult for them to function on a day-to-day basis.
How You as Parents & Carers can Help:
Parents and other caregivers have a vitally important part to play when it comes to helping children understand and manage stress. The following are a number of ways in which you can best support them:
- Model Healthy Coping Strategies
Caregivers can talk with children about how they’ve processed and dealt with their own stressful situations. This encourages an open dialogue and builds a safe sharing environment. It also demonstrates a proactive response, as opposed to ignoring the issue and allowing it to get worse.
- Let Children be Problem-Solvers
It is natural to want to fix your child’s problems. However, swooping in to solve every little glitch prevents children from building their own healthy problem-solving practices. Allow your child to try to solve their own low-stake problems by encouraging them to think of their own solutions first, and they will automatically gain confidence to deal with their own stressors and setbacks.
- Promote Media Literacy
Children and young people spend a lot of time online, making them vulnerable to encountering content that is inappropriate for their age, cyberbullying and grooming, as well as the peer pressures that can come with social media platforms. You can help by teaching your child to be a savvy digital consumer and encouraging them to think carefully about the content they are interacting with. Another way is to limit screen time; this will also enable them to build healthy sleeping patterns, which is another large factor that contributes to stress and anxiety.
- Combat Negative Thinking
“I’m terrible at Maths! …I hate my hair!… I’ll never make the team!” – with the insecurities that come with puberty, children and young people can easily fall into the trap of negative thinking. When you hear your child using negative self-talk, it is important to acknowledge it in a pro-active manner; do not just disagree with them. Ask them to really think about whether what they are saying is true and remind them of times they have worked hard and improved. Learning to frame things positively will help them develop resilience to stress.
Apps / Website to Support:
There are so many helpful resources online, as well as apps that can help children to cope and build resilience when life gets difficult. The following are some we recommend regularly:
Headspace can be just what your teen needs to help them cope when they feel stressed or anxious about school or friends and help ground them so they can feel and live better. https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/headspace-mindful-meditation/id493145008
Colorfy is a drawing app with 1000+ images to choose from your teen can take their mind off all their worries, troubles and stress and delve into the beautiful designs which will distract them from their anxious thoughts and help them calm down and relax. https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/colors-by-number-no-draw/id1317690198
The Stop, Breathe, Think app offers short mindful activities to help them tune into their emotions because how they feel impacts how they respond to life, their ability to concentrate, relationships and so much more. https://www.stopbreathethink.org.uk/
Kooth is a digital mental health and well being company working to provide a digital space for mental health. There is an online forumn, resources, discussion boads, articles and more. Kooth is very popular with 4000 logins per day https://www.kooth.com/