Stress doesn’t develop with age. It just changes — and kids have stressors of their own. Everything from assignments, tests, sports, debate teams and friendships can take a toll on your kids’ mental health. Unmanaged stress can lead to a lifetime of issues, so it’s essential to check in whenever you can. Not sure how to do that? No sweat! We’ve got some advice to help you identify (and help them manage) the stressors of their young lives.

Signs of Stress

How can you tell if your kids are stressed? Watch for these warning signs.

  1. If your kid’s temper is shorter than usual or they get upset by things that typically wouldn’t affect them, they could be experiencing stress.
  2. Behavior changes. Did your spunky, high-spirited kid suddenly become a couch potato? Has your typically well-behaved child been sent to the principal’s office more than normal? These could be signs that stress is sinking in.
  3. Changes in eating habits. If your kid is grabbing double the snacks they used to or barely touching their favorite food, they might be under more stress than usual. Yes, kids are growing, so their eating habits can be all over the map. However, sometimes this can mean it’s time to touch base about their mental health.
  4. Sleep patterns. Trouble sleeping is a tell-tale sign that your child is stressed. Just like adults, kids can also fall prey to the dreaded “Sunday Scaries.”
  5. Stress takes a toll on our bodies — physically and mentally. If your kids are staying home more than usual and catching every bug, this could point to something beyond a common cold.

How to Manage Stress

The good news about stress? It can be managed, and it doesn’t have to consume your family’s lives. Keep stress on the sidelines with these strategies.

  1. Talk with your kids. Set aside some time to have a conversation about their stressors. Ask them how they feel about school, their friendships, extracurricular activities and teachers. Listen to what they say and offer to help where you can.
  2. Get adequate sleep. Kids ages 6 – 12 require 10 – 12 hours of sleep a night, while teens need 8 – 10 hours. Turn off your screens a little earlier each night and practice good sleep hygiene to help your whole family fall and stay
  3. Movement can be a massive stress reliever. Get your blood pumping and ensure your kids get 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Here are some ways to raise their heart rate — and their spirits.
  4. Make time for rest. It may seem like a win if your kids are always focused on schoolwork, but this could lead to burnout. Block off some time each day just to relax.
  5. Get outside. A little sunshine can go a long way! Put on some sunblock and spend your weekend outdoors. Check out this list of outdoor activities your family will love.
  6. Practice mindfulness. Finding small ways to be mindful throughout the day can keep stress levels in check.
  7. Change routines in a healthy way. Getting back into the swing of the school year is easier said than done, but try to encourage healthy changes early on. It will help carry your kids through the year and make sure those habits stick!

Stress takes on many different forms, but it’s manageable and doesn’t have to control your life or your kids’ lives. Healthy coping tools will make your children better students and strengthen their health in the long run. Remember, kids are always watching, so be a role model for stress management. That means it’s time to take a deep breath … and get rid of stress!

For more advice on stress management and healthy living, check out these tips or visit ShapeYourFutureOK.com.