Helping your son or daughter to manage stress

It’s not usually possible to completely remove stress from young people’s lives. Besides, we wouldn’t want to because a small amount of stress can be good, helping with study for example and keeping them alert.

There are ways to help manage stress so that it doesn’t begin to have the negative impacts previously mentioned .

Help your son/daughter manage stress by:

  • ensuring your expectations for them reflects their abilities and aspirations
  • recognising the signs of stress and being supportive
  • listening – nothing is more important for young people than having people they can depend on providing emotional support
  • be encouraging – focus on the positive
  • supporting involvement in sports and other pro-social activities.

Methods of dealing with stress

Young people can decrease stress with the following behaviours and techniques, which you as a parent can model and encourage.

Tackle the problem – when feeling stressed, it’s not always clear what’s causing it. Figuring out the cause can make it seem more manageable. Ignoring the problem may make it worse. Help them figure out the cause by reflecting on recent events, behaviours or thoughts or encourage them to write it down.

Talk to someone – young people need to know that it’s always OK to talk about how they’re feeling and there’s always someone there to listen. Sharing stressful feelings, worries and concerns with people they trust can reduce stress, offer fresh perspectives and help find ways of coping we may never have thought of on our own.

Go for a walk or run – exercising can be a really good way of relieving stress. It helps to get rid of all that pent up energy and can leave us feeling much calmer. Any sort of exercise can be good. Regular exercise has many benefits to physical and mental health.

Take some deep breaths – deep breathing can help to relax the body and calm us down. Taking deep breaths before an exam, game or before going on stage can help to calm us down and focus on what it is we are about to do.

Managing expectations – feeling external pressure from parents, teachers, sports coaches and friends can cause huge stress among young people. Internal pressure to do well can also cause stress. Help them set realistic goals based on their abilities and interests and ways to achieve them. This is especially important around exam time or before important games.

Have multiple options to achieve goals – there’s never just one way to achieve something. Let your son or daughter know that if one way doesn’t work out, there may be other ways of achieving their goals.

Avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine – young people can often be tempted to use smoking, alcohol or caffeine as a way of coping with stress. It can also be a coping mechanism they pick up from home. It may feel better in the short term, but in the long run stimulants will increase stress levels. Energy drinks should also be avoided as they can give a strong burst of energy followed by a crash shortly after.

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