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How to help your stressed-out child feel calm again

Teach your kids to choose their own ending.

How to help your stressed-out child feel calm again

Childhood stress might not seem like such a big deal, but it is very real and can cause significant emotional and physical problems.


Left unchecked, childhood stress can result in chronic illness, headaches (including migraines), sleep disturbance, digestive problems, high blood pressure and back and neck pain. It can also exacerbate symptoms of asthma, allergies and diabetes.

On the emotional side it can cause anxiety, depression, difficulty socializing and poor school performance. In short—stress can negatively impact the day-to-day lives of our children.

There is good news for parents of stressed out little ones, though. When childhood stress is tackled head on, kids can learn to cope and work through it.

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Try these stress reduction tips at home to help your little one feel calm again:

1. Use body mapping.

Most kids struggle to understand the mind-body connection. They don’t, for example, know that neck pain is a sign of stress or anxiety. They don’t understand that a stomachache the morning of a big test might very well be connected to the feelings associated with taking the test, or that a headache after a tough day at school isn’t just a cold.

Body mapping is a great exercise to help kids understand how their bodies feel when they’re under stress. Have your child draw an outline of a body. Dress and decorate the body to make it more fun. Talk about how our bodies can feel when we are stressed or worried.

You might mention a racing heart when feeling anxious or a headache when overwhelmed. Cue your child to think about how his body responds to stress (tight muscles, clenched jaw, sore tummy) and color those areas red on the body map.

Once your child completes the map, talk about common triggers (friendship trouble, school, too much homework, etc.) and how to work through them.

2. Practice guided imagery.

Deep breathing is a great tool for reducing stress, but it can be difficult for kids to practice independently. More often than not, they breathe too quickly and worsen their stress symptoms.

Adding guided imagery to the mix helps kids calm down while envisioning a relaxing scene or story. Note: It’s important to practice stress reduction techniques when kids are calm so that they can utilize them when they are upset later on.

Have your child get comfortable in a relaxing place (the child’s bedroom is generally a good place). Ask your child to name a relaxing destination (the beach, a forest, etc.) Cue your child to use relaxation breathing (in for four, hold for three, out for four) while you describe a journey to the relaxing destination. Practice daily for 5-7 minutes.

3. Revisit the schedule.

Sometimes we get stuck on the treadmill when it comes to parenting. We keep running and doing because it seems like that makes kids happy. It doesn’t. Kids might not be able to verbalize feeling overwhelmed by constant activity, but everyone needs downtime. And all kids need time to play.

Make a stress list, including that busy schedule, and look for areas where you can cut back and make time for family and play.

4. Choose your own ending.

Kids tend to experience symptoms of stress when they feel out of control—when they feel helpless. When it feels like the world is against them, kids get stuck in a rut and develop negative core beliefs (i.e. “I can’t do this,” or “I am powerless.”). Taking control of stress is a great first step toward reducing it.

Teach your kids to choose their own ending. Have your child describe a stressful situation, including how it ended (“someone was mean and I cried”). Help your child brainstorm alternate endings to the story. Finally, have your child retell the story with a new ending and talk about how that might feel.

Most kids experience ups and downs and varying degrees of stress along the way. Teaching them how to cope with stress empowers them to work through the hard stuff in pursuit of happiness.

For more stress reduction techniques and strategies to empower children to live happy lives, check out Katie’s new book, The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World.

Originally published by Katie Hurley on The Huffington Post.

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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