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Teaching your children to manage stress

Education in Singapore is extremely stressful as there are extra projects and core curricular activities (CCA) on top of the regular homework and examinations. Children who do not know how to cope with the stress from all these might fare badly or even fail in school. The setbacks that children face can have lasting impacts on them, even after they grow up. Therefore, it is important to help children to manage stress in a healthy way. Parents have a very important role to play in helping children to manage stress.

Here are some tips which you can use to help your children manage stress.

1) Do not overschedule
Overscheduling seems to be the one thing that all Singaporean parents are engaging in. Children nowadays need to cope with school work, projects, CCAs and then come home to more homework, tuition classes and perhaps a ballet or piano class on the weekend. Children no longer have the luxury to enjoy their childhood without the stress of moving from one class to another. Help your children manage stress by reducing the activities that they need to do in a week. Take care to have at least a few hours of downtime in a week, if not more for your children to relax and play as what children should do.

2) Play time is important
Make play an integrated activity for your children, no matter whether they are very young or older. Very young children adapt easily to play but older children might have a harder time if they are stress about their school work. Combine play with physical activities like cycling, swimming or going for a walk in a park – all these activities help to relax your children and enhance their ability to focus better in whatever they do.

3) Sleep should be a priority
Stress the importance of sleep in your household. Make it a rule for your children to sleep at certain fixed timing so that there is routine. It is equally important to create an environment for sleep so that your children can go to sleep easily and rest better. You can simply make a rule that there will be no mobile phones in the room when it is time for bed.

4) Encourage your children to pay attention to their bodies
Our bodies wears out if we push ourselves too hard. Children are even more vulnerable to push themselves too hard and fall sick. Teach your children how to listen to their bodies and report to you any abnormal pains in their body. For example, if your children are constantly experiencing stomach upsets during school or having a headache for no reason, it could be a sign that they are too stressed and something must be done to help them reduce it.

5) Manage your own stress
Stress pass on easily from one person to another person, especially children as they pick up signals very fast. If you are constantly stressed, your children will also be constantly stressed. Be a good role model and show them how to relax and enjoy the day. Teach them to be present in the moment so that they will learn the value of appreciating the little things in life.

6) Organised your home
A cluttered and disorganised home makes for a stressful morning. Teach your children to pack their bags the night before so that they are ready for school the next day. You should also prepare whatever you can the night before so that you have lesser things to do in the morning when time is short. When your mornings are calmer, it sets the day to be less stressful since you can leave the house with a calm and happy mind.

7) Do not put down your children for making mistakes
Many children in Singapore are afraid of mistakes and failures. They take things too hard and some of them even considered suicide. It is unhealthy for children to reject mistakes and to view mistake as failure. Remind your children that it is okay to make mistakes because they do not know everything. Analyse any bad decision made by your children with them, and discuss how they can make a better decision in future. Do not put them down or scold and criticise them for a bad decision made if it was made without complete knowledge of the consequences.

All these tips are a start to help you in managing your children’s stress. Remember that play time is important for all children and even parents can benefit from play with their children. Stress is manageable as long as we take note of it and make necessary adjustments in our lives to ensure that it does not overwhelm us.


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