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Is your school-age child showing signs of stress?

November 9, 2019

School is full of different challenges and obstacles for children.  For children with learning or attention differences, it can be quite stressful navigating the everyday stressors. By this point in the school year, the demands of school may seem like they are increasing and homework may start coming home more regularly. 




Open communication with your child about stress can be very beneficial in keeping stress and anxiety at bay. I find having conversations about the “highs and lows” of the day with each of my children over the dinner table or at bedtime works well for us.  Here are a few ideas to help your child manage:

  • Homework stress- a large page of homework with word problems can be overwhelming. 

    • Break down problems into manageable chunks (groups of 2-3 for example).

    • Allow for fun breaks in between – take the dog out for a walk or play outside.

    • Praise him/her for each complete set of questions


  • Help your child understand how they are feeling

    • Your child may not be aware they are feeling stress.

    • Keep questions low key- mention what you have noticed “I’ve noticed that math homework has been really bothering you lately…”

    • Help child name what it is that is bothering them- “Are you feeling scared about being singled out in class when the teacher asks you a question?” 

    • Simple talking about feelings can be a huge relief – knowing the feeling is heard and empathized with you as the parent is very helpful.


  • Help child prepare for new things

    • If starting a new extracurricular activity,Help your child prepare for new things you can help by giving your child as much information about that activity ahead of time so they know what to expect.  

    • Bring them to new settings ahead of the activity so they can get comfortable with the environment before the activity starts. 


  • Help create a positive attitude

    • Use phrases your child can repeat when facing new or challenging situations. “I can do this! Or “I can try new things”, “I can do hard things” are a few good examples. 

    • These phrases can crowd out the negative speech being a go-to for your child.


  • Ensure you have routines at home

    • When home is an organized place and routines are the norm this provides a tremendous sense of security for children. 

    • When possible stick to your routines-e.g. after school routine of taking dog out for a walk, or go to park, and then tackle homework. 

    • Visual schedules are a great tool to try for kids who like to know what is coming next. 

  • Find ways to help your child blow off steam!

    • Provide opportunities to release some of the pressure in fun, playful ways such as exercise- , trampoline, jump rope, swinging, dance, soccer in the backyard etc. 


  • Help find balance with school and extracurricular activities

    • Finding an appropriate activity that your child is good at outside of school can really boost their self-esteem. If your child excels at hockey- it’s a good use of your time and resources to get them there. 

      • Be cautious to not have your child signed up in too many activities or your child will not have enough down time and their busy schedule may be a source of stress. 


  • Set realistic goals with your child

    • Help your child set goals that are achievable so that they can be successful.

    • Make sure the goal is defined or measurable so they know when they have reached the goal. 

    • E.g. 100% on a spelling test may not be realistic but perhaps %75-80% is a more realistic goal and less overwhelming for your child to success. 

    • Be clear with your expectations- If you expect them to do something at home such as clean there room, make sure your child understands your definition of “clean”.

      • E.g. Showing a picture of their room in an acceptably clean and tidy state.

If your child continues to have challenges managing daily stress and you are already utilizing a lot of the above practices, speak to a pediatric therapist for more strategies specific to your child. 

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