Helping Your Child to Overcome Stress: Parent’s Guide to Empathetic Support
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, and children are no exception. It is crucial that we as parents recognize the signs of stress in our kids and provide them with the necessary support to overcome it. Together with the professional clown doctors who come every day to support kids in hospitals, we will discuss various ways to help your child manage stress and touch upon some strategies to help you cope with your own stress as a parent.
Be there for your child
The most important thing is to be there for your child when he is having difficulties, when he is afraid or when he feels stressed.
Dear parents, it is natural to feel bad when your child is sick. That is why it is especially important for you to have good friends or relatives who can substitute for you for a few hours, so that you can take a break from the tension and change the environment, even for a little while.
Encourage open communication
When your child is sick, provide reassurance and comfort. Encourage them to express their fears and concerns, and validate their feelings. Offer distractions such as reading stories or watching movies, to help diverge their mind from the discomfort they feel.???
Sing to the child, breathe consciously and peacefully. This can be done in a form of play. Not just tell the child to “breathe in and breathe out”, but play a game of blowing up an imaginary balloon instead.
Introduce stress management techniques that are age-appropriate and easy to practice. Some examples include:
- Deep breathing exercises: Teach your child to take slow, deep breaths when they are feeling overwhelmed.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Guide your child through tensing and relaxing various muscle groups to help release tension.
- Visualization: Encourage your child to imagine a peaceful, calming scene in their mind to help them relax.
Another important factor is the age of the child. To reduce stress, anxiety and even pain in younger children, a good method is to distract them with any fun activity or object that sparks your child’s interest.
Make something out of paper or some other easy-to-build material. Practical things, if the environment and situation allow it: read a book with your child (or look at the drawings and pictures in the book if your child is still small). Any practical things are soothing and distracting from negative thoughts, and the result of the work can bring joy to the child.
Caring for yourself
Caring for a stressed or sick child can be emotionally draining. To manage your own stress, practice self-care:
- Engage in regular exercise and relaxation techniques.
- Maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
- Seek social support from friends, family or support groups.
- Set aside time for hobbies and leisure activities.
- Consider therapy or counseling for yourself, if needed.
After all, you know yourself and your child best and know what calms you and brings you joy the most. Most importantly, do not stay silent if you are having a hard time and be sure to ask for help!
Supporting your child through stress and illness is an essential part of parenting. By fostering open communication, teaching stress management techniques, and promoting a healthy lifestyle, you can help your child cope better with life’s challenges. Remember to take care of yourself as well, as a healthy and well-supported parent is better equipped to provide the support their child needs.
Hospital clowning can help to take care of emotions for sick children. This is a special kind of support for children in hospitals. Through games, fun and improvisation, the Clowndoctors help young patients to cope with stress and recover quicker. They can do it more often with your support.