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How to help ease your child’s stress in elementary school

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Child drawing flowers with colored pencils

In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. How to soothe?
2. How to ease stress?
3. Who can help?

Did you think your child’s meltdowns would stop in elementary school? If they're still happening, there are many calming options to explore with children — and also for yourself.

Because let’s face it: Your stressed child can make you stressed.

Just like us, the children we love may get angry, upset or frustrated when things don’t go their way. It’s important that people of all ages learn foundational calming skills to foster positive and healthy relationships for a lifetime. Even the most low-key parents need help managing family stress at times.

1. HOW TO SOOTHE?

“Try removing a smaller child from a stressful situation and relocating to a quiet corner to color, draw, sketch or journal to avoid escalation,” says Deborah Newell, director of Positive Parenting Program, known as Triple P, for Community Partners of South Florida. “Deep breathing, counting backward, squeezing a stress ball, applying hand lotion, excusing oneself to the bathroom, washing the face, and walking away to a quiet place can all be very calming activities for parents and adult caregivers.”

Parents can help their children identify stressful triggers at school, says Amy Simpson, former executive director of Boys Town South Florida in West Palm Beach, an agency funded by Children’s Services Council.

2. HOW TO EASE STRESS?

“Ask what bothers them most — being called on to read in front of the class, taking tests, or deciding where to sit at lunch?” Simpson says. “Next, prepare your child by practicing — taking a deep breath, introducing himself or herself to a potential friend, or talking in front of an audience — so they are ready when the real situation arises. For homework, have them prioritize their time and decide what’s most important for effective time management.”

“Relax,” a book by Catherine O'Neill and Toni Goffe, is filled with fun ways to teach children to calm themselves and offers advice on where to start with role-playing, suggests Renée E. Layman, chief executive officer for the Center for Child Counseling in Palm Beach Gardens, an agency funded by Children’s Services Council.

3. WHO CAN HELP?

If you're worried your child is overreacting to situations or that stress is taking over their life, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Five local organizations provide a variety of compassionate outpatient services to children of all ages, as well as counseling for parents, through the Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative. A grant from Palm Beach County’s Community Services Department funds the collaborative. For more information, click here or call 56-588-3477.

You can also reach out to Triple P programs, which are free and focus on positive parenting and family strengthening. Triple P, funded by Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County, is provided by:


SOURCES:

• Deborah Newell, program director of Triple P, Community Partners of South Florida
• Renée Layman, chief executive officer, Center for Child Counseling
• Amy Simpson, former executive director, Boys Town South Florida
Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative



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