Helping your child cope with stress

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by iStock

As a parent, you may be experiencing more outbursts and tantrums from your children due to social distancing limitations and the other stress factors that come with the COVID-19 pandemic.

With parents’ stress mounting due to job uncertainty, distance learning and disturbed schedules, children are feeling apprehensive and that can manifest in a number of strange behaviours.

Signs of stress in children include: nightmares, bedwetting, increase in tantrums/outbursts, withdrawing and changes in eating and sleeping patterns.

“Children learn by what they see, so it is very important to take care of yourself as a parent. If you are managing well, chances are your children will as well,” said Barb Gross, family resources services manager of Airdrie Community Links.

Community Links offers helpful coping tools for parents to deal with increased stress in their children including:

Community Links also offers one-on-one support via the phone, virtual means and in person.

Other practices that can help children deal with stress include simple things such as finding a quiet place to sit or lay down and breathing in and out, practicing yoga, or even just getting up and moving their bodies.

“Sometimes a distraction like standing on one foot might help you feel better,” said Jen Berg, Airdrie Community Links parent mentor.

The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) recommends teaching your children ways to relax when they feel upset.

“This could be deep breathing, doing something calming (such as a quiet activity they enjoy), taking some time alone, or going for a walk.”

Younger children may be more open to breathing exercises if you make it fun by breathing in and then making the sound of your favourite animal as you breathe out or flapping your arms like a bird.

CPS also recommends listening to your child and really trying to understand what they are worried about. Then taking the time to answer their questions honestly before moving on to an activity that will help take their minds off of their concern at least for the time being.

For more information or additional support for yourself or your child, contact Airdrie Community Links at 403-945-3900.