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Monday, June 9, 2014

5 Ways To Help Your Child Manage Their Stress

As adults, we realize that stress is an inevitable part of life. Though we usually associate stress with negative emotions, some feelings of stress are healthy. Interestingly enough, too little stress – which often goes hand-in-hand with poor coping techniques – is just as bad as too much stress. Helping our kids appropriately deal with stress will benefit them for the rest of their lives, moving them toward growing into smarter, stronger individuals.

Dr. Michael Popkin, author of numerous parenting books and spokesperson for the youth smoking prevention program Real Parents Real Answers, says many of our young people that smoke cite stress as a reason they continue the habit. The act, they say, helps calm them down and relieve stress. Therefore, helping kids manage their stress levels, may also help prevent youth smoking. Popkin recommends a technique known as “active communication” to help parents instill the importance of coping with and minimizing stress in their kids’ lives. “Active communication” has five simple steps: Step 1: Listen activelyWhen speaking with your tween or teen, give them your undivided attention. Keep your own talk to a minimum and show full acknowledgement for what you are hearing. Listen with empathy and show that you are not only listening, but that you can understand what they are feeling. Step 2: Listen for feelingsChildren and teens often suppress their feelings, making problem recognition difficult for parents. Be sure to listen for your child’s feelings rather than simply the content of their story. Rephrase questions in a manner that encourages sharing feelings and pay close attention to tone and body language. Step 3: Look for alternatives and evaluate consequencesAsk your child questions such as, “What can you do about that?” or “Is there something else you can try?” It's beneficial for your child to think of alternatives on their own, allowing them to dig deeper into their own feelings and take full credit for any consequences—positive or negative. Step 4: Offer encouragementOffering encouragement lets your child know that you truly care and that their feelings are important to you. Validation that what they're feeling is completely normal is sometimes all that is needed for your child not to overreact to negative emotions. Step 5: Follow-upBefore ending the conversation, be sure that your child fully understands everything you have discussed. Gently ask what the plan is, but don't be overbearing – give them time to think through and handle the problem. For more tips on communicating with your children and helping them make good decisions, such as staying smoke-free,


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