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Stress Management Tips For Teachers
Studies show that children and teenagers are more stressed today than ever before. The combined pressures of schoolwork, high-stakes exams, social life, sports or other activities, along with lots of screen time, have caused high levels of anxiety and stress in young people.
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We cannot completely eliminate stress from our children. Plus, shielding your child from life’s hardships doesn’t do them any favors. Raising a resilient child who can bounce back from difficulties and challenges is more powerful.
Since stress is a natural part of life, your goal is to teach your child healthy strategies
Before you go any further, we thought you might want to download our free poster, When I Worry. Use this popular printable to make a plan with your child for when anxiety shows up. Your child will have their own list of coping strategies to calm their worries and anxiety
Before you start helping your child cope with stress, make sure what causes them stress is within their control.
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Help your child shift from a “stress hurts” mindset to a “stress helps” mindset. Stress is a stimulus for growth if children understand that stressful situations do not last forever. Instead, these situations represent challenges to overcome and lessons to learn.
Cognitive neuroscientist and author Ian Robertson compares the stress response system to the immune system: it gets stronger with practice.
After a strong stress response, the brain rewires itself to remember and learn from the experience. How the brain prepares you to handle similar stressful situations next time.
Stress causes the brain to release a chemical called noradrenaline. The brain does not function optimally with too much noradrenaline. But guess what? Too little noradrenaline is also not good.
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Armed with the information above, you’re ready to help your child deal with stress. Follow the steps below to get started:
1) Adopt a “stress helps” mindset. Accept that you can’t prevent stress, some stress is actually beneficial, and stress is an opportunity to grow. If you don’t have this mindset, it will be impossible to teach it to your child. (Also, reducing your own stress is essential—stress is “contagious.” When your child senses your stress, it automatically changes their physiology to go into stress mode.)
2) Understand the reasons behind your child’s stress instead of dismissing it. To adults, a child’s problems may seem trivial. But they look big to the baby and they cause real stress or discomfort to the baby.
Reframing stress means your child needs to shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Studies show that brief developmental mindset training can significantly reduce stress and improve grades in teens.
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In stressful situations, we often feel overwhelmed and prone to falling into a fixed mindset thought process; There is nothing we can do to change the situation, our abilities are limited to what we can do, and we can stop trying.
Help your child see the situation from a growth mindset perspective – that it’s not fixed, it can be improved, and that they have the power to influence the situation.
If you hear your child say a fixed mindset statement like “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good at math,” help them find an alternative growth mindset.
Encourage your child to practice growth mindset affirmations and remind them that putting in effort and trying different solutions can help them solve problems and reduce their stress.
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What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen if your child really fails the test or Sarah is being rude?
You can ask your child how likely this scenario is to happen, or any other scenarios that are more likely to happen. Conclude by asking, “What would you do if
Coming up with a possible solution will help your child more in managing their stress. Once they have a plan for the worst-case scenario, they spend less time worrying.
The purpose of this exercise is not to dismiss your child’s fears but to help your child realize the “bad thing” is probably not as tragic as they initially imagined.
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Don’t forget to download our free When Your Child Feels Worried poster as your child has their own list of coping strategies to calm anxiety and worry.
Once your child resets stress and adopts a growth mindset, they should learn how to put these ideas into practice through problem-solving. It takes many examples, modeling and real-life experience before it really takes root.
Here you will find a variety of developmentally appropriate activities and strategies for teaching problem-solving. A good starting point is to teach your child the following three-step process:
Once you’ve brainstormed solutions, help your child think through the positive and negative effects of each proposed idea and then choose one. Your child may need prompting, but aim to contribute only open-ended questions to the conversation, allowing your child to do more of the problem-solving on his own.
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If the initial plan (let’s call it Plan A) doesn’t work, your child has several backup plans ready and waiting. Knowing this will make their problem less stressful. And once they master the art of problem solving, they have the tools they need to handle their own stressful situations.
The strategies listed above work best when your child is in a relaxed state of mind conducive to thinking critically and logically. You can help your child achieve this calm state by using stress-management techniques.
There are many strategies for managing stress, so consider trying some of the strategies listed below to determine what works for your child:
Remember that these techniques are not meant to relieve stress. Instead, they help your child reach a calm state of mind so they can address the source of their stress and solve the problem.
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When we view all stress as negative and unhealthy and try to eliminate it, we end up creating more stress for ourselves and our children.
Instead, it’s better to teach our children that stress is a natural part of life that can be managed effectively.
Start by helping your child reframe stress, shifting from a fixed mindset and belief that “stress hurts” to a growth mindset and belief “stress helps.”
Help your child learn to recognize and stop catastrophic thinking, and teach them how to recognize stress (the main problem) and then brainstorm solutions. You can also try stress-management techniques to help your child reach a calmer state of mind.
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Your child can’t control how stressful situations happen, but they can control how they react to them. Instead of going into meltdown mode, they go into problem-solving mode, allowing them to overcome the challenge and learn valuable lessons along the way.
Looking for additional resources to build grit and resilience in your child? The Build Your Frustration Tolerance Masterclass is a self-paced growth mindset parenting masterclass where you’ll learn how to help your child push forward and keep going instead of giving up at the slightest setback. You get lifetime access so you can go through all the material at your own pace. Our expert parenting educators give you specific tools and strategies to overcome their frustrations and raise a determined child. When a student approaches a difficult or challenging situation, they may repeat the mantra to themselves. or phrase to remind or encourage them towards the desired behavior.
This technique increases feelings of calmness and boosts confidence. It is especially effective when paired with a breathing technique such as box breathing.
Explore example mantras for social situations, starting a task, starting the school day, taking a test, transitions. Plus a blank template so students can create their own mantras or phrases.
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They redirect the mind away from anxiety-provoking events from the past or fear of what may happen in the future.
Break cards allow students to tell adults they need a break. Discuss and agree on boundaries and expectations about how to use break cards. Three, free, downloadable break card options.
Description of a technique for students to use by repeating words to provide calm and focus in particularly challenging situations.
A research-based mindfulness program developed for New Zealand schools and endorsed by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.
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