Anxiety and stress in teens is an epidemic, and has been well-documented. A 2014 survey revealed that 83% of teens reported school-related stress. Now with COVID-19, increases in gun-violence and racial tensions, the numbers are likely to be even higher. Are there some things that teachers can do to play a role in their student’s mental wellbeing? This article will point to several strategies that can and will make a difference.
Firstly, as parents and teachers, it is important to take a look at our own fears around Covid-19 and school....
At a time when anxiety and depression are rampant in our youngsters, helping them to understand their feelings can go a long way to relieving these debilitating problems.
Children do need to be allowed to feel their feelings and we can help our children to labeltheir feelings. However, we help them to understand where their feelings are coming from when we don’t validate them. In other words, it is OK for my child to feel angry when his best friend breaks his toy, but it’s best not to agree that the anger was because his friend broke his toy. We are never upset for the reason we think.
Are your children anxious about Covid-19?
Are your own stress levels increasing with each newscast?
Are you wondering how to help your children to calm their worries?
We are living in unprecedented times. The world has changed seemingly overnight and we don’t know where this is all leading. Uncertainty about the future tends to provoke anxiety in adults, which is then picked up by our children. One of the best ways to beat anxiety is to have something that you can do right away to calm down. Studies have shown that smiling, being grateful, taking deep breaths and helping others are all powerful ways of relieving stress and reducing anxiety.
Here are six tips that you can teach your children and then give them a ‘tool kit’ as a tangible reminder of how to relax whatever the circumstances. You’ll likely have most of these items around.
Is it possible to take the guilt out of parenting?
Several years ago, I asked a group of fourth grade students if they could describe what guilt feels like. They could. They described it as “gut-wrenching” and “excruciating”! What could children in fourth grade possibly have done in their lives that could justify them carrying guilt around? At that age? The problem is that one mistake can lead to a child forming a negative belief about himself that he is guilty, and that belief will stay with him for the rest of his life until it is challenged.
Are your children nervous about going back to school?
Do you have a child going to a new school?
Do you worry about your child’s stress levels at school?
Back to school can be an anxious time for children, parents and teachers alike. One of the best ways to beat anxiety is to have something that you can do right away to calm down. Studies have shown that smiling, being grateful, taking deep breaths and helping others are all powerful ways of relieving stress and reducing anxiety.
Here are five tips that you can teach your children and then give them a ‘tool kit’ they can take in their lunch box or pencil box as a tangible reminder of how to relax whatever the circumstances. You’ll likely have most of these items around, but if not, a visit to the dollar store will provide whatever you need for your tool kit.
Family dynamics are complicated to say the least! You may be struggling with your own anxiety or depression while at the same time trying to be the best parent you can be. Kids are more anxious and depressed now than at any other time in history, so having a happy family may seem like a pipe dream to you. There is a way to help everyone feel better if you can adopt three simple (but not easy) mindsets and practice them every day.
The answer is: It depends! There is nothing intrinsically wrong with competition—it can be fun to compete. The problem comes when a child equates her worth with the outcome of the competition. I’m worthy if I win. I’m worth less if I lose. A child who knows his Inherent Worth (IW) will be OK no matter what the outcome of the competition—his worth is not at stake. Competition will be fun for the competitors when they are secure in their awareness of their IW. Avoid competitions until you are sure of that. If you can’t avoid it here are a few tips:
Are We Using Too Much Praise?
by Anne Andrew (excerpted from What They Don’t Teach in Prenatal Class: The Key to Raising Trouble-Free Kids and Teens).
Do you do what you do to win approval from our bosses, peers, spouse, other family members, and even your children?
When that approval is not forthcoming do you beat yourself up wondering what you did wrong or reminding yourself that once again you failed?
How can we raise our children so that they are not praise-dependent?
We need to teach children to find approval within themselves. They’ll be constantly looking outside themselves for approval, as long as they are trying to establish their own worth instead of being sure that they have all the worth they will ever need. So, be careful with praise. Having a strong sense of Inherent Worth is crucial in countering the tendency we have of looking for and finding evidence that our underlying negative beliefs are true.
How will I encourage my child if I don’t use praise?
If your child brings a painting home from school, you might ask her about the painting—did she enjoy painting it? How did she decide which colors to use? How did it make her feel? Is she pleased with the result? What will she paint next time? These questions will help her to understand her own response to painting. Is this an activity that she enjoys? What are the aspects that are enjoyable?
You’ll learn a lot more about her and help her learn about herself as well. Helping her tune into her feelings about the painting will allow her to process her emotional responses to the painting. Perhaps she was frustrated that she couldn’t get the proportions right or that she couldn’t mix exactly the color she wanted. Feelings of frustration point to an underlying negative belief and this can be countered by reminding her that her Worth is Inherent—it doesn’t depend on how well she paints.
Perhaps she feels fantastic and the picture is exactly how she wanted it to turn out. Then she will be encouraged to continue exploring her creativity through art. It is important that children do the things they want to do because they want to do them—not because we want to live vicariously through our children and reap the rewards of having a child prodigy.
Barbara Coloroso, in her book Kids are Worth It!, cautions parents to be neutral when children bring home report cards: “If you get excited about your child’s performance, connecting his performance with his dignity and worth as a person, you are encouraging him to view mistakes as a negative reflection of himself; something to be denied or blamed on someone else.”
Whether it is an A or a D, simply be curious. That way you’ll help the child to understand his strengths and weaknesses without judging him. If we get excited when a child brings home a high grade, then we are giving the message that high grades make us happy and he may equate getting good grades with being loved. If we are neutral and accepting, he will feel comfortable sharing his mistakes as well as successes and will know that we are there to help and offer suggestions if he needs them.
Begin to notice all the times that you are tempted to use praise, and instead be curious. Don’t stop cold turkey or your children might be confused, but do see how often in a day you use praise automatically. By changing the emphasis from yourreaction to a child’s work to their own reaction to it, you’ll be helping them figure out what they love to do, what are their strengths and their weaker points. You’ll be helping them understand themselves better and they will be freed from the role of making you happy.
How many times did you say “Good job!” today? Tomorrow, catch yourself being tempted to say it and ask a question instead. If the old “Good job!” slips out (as it will) just follow it up with a question. That’s it!
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Book Signing and Talk by the Author on Thursday April 11th, 2019 at 2:00 pm at the Waldman Library at the JCCGV (950 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver, BC). Please call (604) 257 5181 to RSVP.
“Your thoughts and the words you use about a child will at some stage become the thoughts and words that the child thinks about himself”
Labels act a lot like negative beliefs. Children become their labels. The bad kid in a family will be the bad kid in the family, the klutz will be the klutz until freed of those labels. Children who are labeled as learning disabled may cease trying and feel that they have no hope because they have been given an excuse for low expectations. Is there a way to reduce the impact of labels?
I know firsthand the emotional and financial costs of having a troubled teenager and I don’t want that to happen to you. That's why I wrote my book What They Don't Teach in Prenatal Class: The Key to Raising Trouble-Free Kids and Teens (available on Amazon).