How to Help Students Relax When They’re Feeling Stressed
Anything from a poor night’s sleep to a challenging assignment can cause stress in students. Stress can affect children emotionally, physically, socially, or academically, and the ways stress can manifest are endless. If you want your child to develop effective techniques for battling frustration, start by understanding the causes of stress and how to handle them.
Each of the following sections describes a common stressor that students face in school, as well as a few relaxation tips for kids to try.
Address Physiological and Emotional Needs
Angry, irritated, tired, bored, disappointed, apathetic—these are just some of the emotions that kids may feel when they have a bad day. If you notice that your child is moody, determine whether something is causing his or her negative emotions or if he or she is feeling bad for no reason.
Sometimes when your child can’t target the reason for a bad mood, his or her body could be triggering the feelings. Hunger or lack of sleep, for example, can take a toll on people of all ages. If all of your child’s basic needs are satisfied, consider his or her overall health. Did your student eat a healthy breakfast, or has he or she been eating too much junk food lately? Is excessive sugar causing him or her to feel foggy and lethargic? Does your child stay active during the day?
Another factor to consider is your child’s comfort. Your home classroom should be an organized space with a positive atmosphere, so look for some fun classroom organization ideas to give the room a boost. Also, make sure your child sits with good posture and practices good vision safety to avoid digital eye strain.
Health Tips to Fight Stress
- Get enough sleep. Show your child how to get more rest by practicing good sleep hygiene. Some of the sleep hygiene tips suggested by the National Sleep Foundation include following a positive sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and large meals before bed, getting enough natural light during the day, and associating the bed with sleep rather than with TV or reading.
- Exercise. The Mayo Clinic recommends that your child make exercise “part of [his or her] stress management plan” because it improves mood and increases endorphins. Work with your student to find some easy indoor physical activities to do every week.
- Have fun. Doing something your child enjoys each day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, is important for fighting stress, according to the American Heart Association. A few ideas for improving your child’s mood include reading a short story, playing a game, or taking a nature walk.
Reduce School Pressures
Certain things happen in school that put pressure on all children. These include:
- Learning a difficult concept or working on a tough problem
- Studying for a test or quiz
- Receiving a poor grade
- Doing a frustrating activity or project
- Working on too many things at once
Whether your child is overscheduled or overwhelmed, he or she has to find a way to overcome the challenges faced at school. You can help. Provide guidance, support, and encouragement, and tell your child to call the teacher for help when needed.
Relaxation Tips for Frustrated Learners
- Take a deep breath. This might be the most common relaxation tip, but that’s because it’s one of the most effective. Harvard Medical School xplains that breathing deeply with the diaphragm allows the body to take in more oxygen, which slows one’s heart rate and lowers one’s blood pressure.
- Listen to soothing music. Expose your child to nature sounds such as rain and thunder, white noise, classical music, and other types of relaxing sounds. These can help calm your child’s mind while he or she studies. You can find a wide selection of mood music on Internet programs such as Spotify.
- Laugh. It might be hard for your child to laugh when frustrated at school, but it could turn his or her whole day around. Watching a funny video or reading a comic can stimulate your child’s organs, improve his or her immune system, relieve pain, and more.
If it’s the school environment that frustrates your child, consider whether he or she is pursuing the right education option. Parents of students who attend traditional schools can take a virtual school tour with Flat Stanley and learn why families choose virtual school.
Break Bad Habits
Sometimes, school can be stressful not because of the challenges it presents but because of the ways in which students handle those challenges. If your student procrastinates or loses focus often, help him or her develop stronger independent study skills.
Another problem that many students face is lack of motivation. Not feeling motivated to complete work or succeed can lead to underachieving, not to mention boredom and restlessness. To find the right motivation solution, you can try using the 9-step motivation model. Spend time together developing scheduling skills to make sure each school day is structured and productive.
Tips for Relaxation and Focus
- Develop intrapersonal skills. Children who learn to recognize their emotions, goals, and beliefs are better equipped to understand what they’re doing wrong and how to fix it. This is important for those who need to develop better learning habits.
- Use self-talk. Does your child know what to say or think to him- or herself when he or she feels bad? The KidsMatter website offers tips on using self-talk to think positively, which can help your child stay motivated and manage his or her own moods.
- Meditate. There are lots of ways to meditate besides taking deep breaths. On the Relax Kids site, you can find quick relaxation exercises for children and even learn how to smell your way to relaxation.
- Practice yoga. Some of our virtual school families choose to practice yoga as part of their child’s physical education and to loosen up their tight muscles together.
- Take a break. Engage your child and improve cognitive skills with sensory integration activities at recess time.
Prevent Conflict and Find Peace
Facing conflict with friends, family members, and sometimes bullies can have a significant impact on students. That’s why it’s important to build conflict resolution skills in children early on. If your child doesn’t learn how to communicate without fighting, it will be difficult for him or her to accept differences and promote kindness. Help him or her develop the right communication skills and your child could avoid a lifetime of unnecessary conflicts.
Having an occasional argument with a friend or sibling is normal, but if your child is the target of bullying or cyberbullying, you need to address the issue immediately. No child should fear going to school or anywhere else, so discuss bullying prevention with your child to ensure he or she knows when to come to you for help.
Tips for Overcoming Conflict
- Talk to someone. Communication is crucial for resolving conflict, so your child shouldn’t hesitate to start a conversation. Children also need to know how to ask for help when they are being bullied. When your child comes to you to discuss bullying or another form of conflict, listen carefully to help your child clarify his or her thoughts and find solutions.
- Find positive social interactions. Spending time with friends is a great way for students to improve their mood and self-esteem, so help your child find ways to socialize with virtual school classmates online or in person.
Does your child face any other stressors in or outside of school? Do you have any of your own stress-relief tips? We want to hear from you, so don’t forget to share with us.