We’re near the home stretch of back to school time. The latest styles in fashion are on retailers' racks and supplies are already on store shelves. However, the back to school experience can be especially stressful in the aftermath of the recent acts of violence in American cities, including, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Chicago, and, even internationally in Nice. Over exposure to negative information across multiple media platforms adds to the stress and disrupts parents' and children's sense of well-being.
It’s not uncommon for tension in the form of stress and anxiety to manifest in middle school children. Many of them are very active online and use their electronic devices more than younger children which increases their susceptibility to being overly exposed to bad news. During the back to school season, children experience a range of pressure, including: heightened school and parental expectations for academic performance; a sense of being overwhelmed by the number of activities they're expected to become involved in; and, hectic schedules to name a few.
Here are some ways that you can help to minimize your child’s stress:
1.Help your child embrace imperfections. It’s okay to have high bars for academic and extracurricular success. However, if your child makes an 87 and he gave his best effort, he should be rewarded. It’s just as important to express your love and support when your child falls short of your expectations. Children need an atmosphere at home and school wherein they can make mistakes, learn from them, and grow.
2.Carve out time for pure fun. Adolescents need calming activities that are free of judgment and competition. Many times children’s schedules become filled with achievement driven activities such as soccer, baseball, gymnastics, basketball, and tennis. Competitive sports cause an increase in the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. So, it’s important for children to get involved with leisure activities like bike riding, skating, painting or drawing.
3.Be their role model for ways to handle stress. Over 50% of your child’s behavior is directly related to the actions you take daily. Therefore, if you think positively, your adolescent will do the same. If your child sees you taking care of yourself and making time for your personal needs, he will learn to do so as well. Your child’s stress management strategies and well-being is a reflection of what he has watched you do during times of tension.