I recently spoke to you about toxic stress and how to tell if your child is dealing with it. I also wrote about how helping your children develop good health and nutrition habits can help lower stress. Other ways to help your child combat toxic stress is by developing good exercise habits and finding out how you can help with school stress.
Help Your Child Combat Stress with Exercise
Creating Good Exercise Habits
With the winter months and holiday breaks from school looming in the near future, this is the perfect time to help your children set up a good exercise routine. This doesn’t mean they should be in the gym lifting weights and running a marathon — exercise comes in many different shapes and sizes. The best exercise is the exercise your child enjoys.
Open up a dialogue with them and find out what they love. Maybe a family game of dodgeball or just running around in the park for 30 minutes. Experiment with a basketball, frisbee, jump-rope or hide and seek. It doesn’t really matter what they do as long as they are moving and getting exercise. Children who exercise daily are more likely to maintain a healthier weight, which helps with self-esteem. Exercise also lowers stress and can often help your child focus more in school. Federal health agencies recommend an hour of exercise a day for kids over six.
Talking To Your Child About School
Speaking of stress, have you asked your children about school lately? They may have encountered a bully, a hard test, or have mounting homework. My daughter is in 7th grade, and I’ve noticed this year is challenging for her. I ask her every day how her day was and offer to help in any way I can.
Sometimes we may not even notice the stress our children are under unless we get them to open up. Just recently I found my daughter in a somber mood and talked to her about it. It turns out she was feeling all this pressure to be amazing at school and was worried we were going to be disappointed if she didn’t meet these high standards. I will tell you that I have never done anything specifically to make her feel this way other than telling her how proud I am of her and how well she does. I believe she took this as feeling that if she didn’t get A’s all the time, I would not feel this way about her.
I took the opportunity to talk to her and explain that it is not about the A’s, it is about the effort she is putting into her schoolwork that I am proud of. I am fine with any grade she gets if she shows she has tried her best. After this talk, I could tell that she felt much better and it relieved some of the undue stress she was feeling.
The moral of this story is it is important to create a loving and open relationship with your child, create good health and nutrition habits, and help them get the exercise they need. All of these tips will help your child. They could make a huge difference for one who is dealing with toxic stress.
This article was written in partnership with Stress Health, an initiative of the Center for Youth Wellness, but all opinions are my own.