Stressed? Think Like A Kid
Strategies That Kids Use Everyday Can Help You Too
It all started at my local YMCA, where I was a teenage volunteer… then a camp counsellor, track coach, school volunteer, and now a mom. I’ve worked and played with a lot of kids!
Along the way, I’ve learned a lot. For example:
1. Kids are really fun to hang out with.
2. They do some things WAY better than we adults do.
3. One of those things is handling stress.
Here’s how kids do it:
Go for it. Back at the Y, and at Camp, there was always that kid who would try anything (usually a good thing)! He or she wouldn’t sit back and say, “Hmm, should I or shouldn’t I?”
That ability to go for it, without overthinking, can be a huge positive. Sometimes, as adults, we ruminate over a decision, while kids are already halfway there.
Let it (failure) go. As a coach, I witnessed my young athletes win and lose. After disappointing races, they generally moved on. Maybe not right away, but they didn’t dwell on it for long. Whether it’s a shorter attention span or just positive thinking, they would leave a bad race where it belonged (behind), and look forward to the next challenge, a little smarter.
Bounce back. Being able to get back on the proverbial horse is key. They don’t let other things (like embarrassment) get in the way and block them from their goal. I’ve witnessed so many ‘epic fails’ (as they call it), where kids would just laugh it off, fist bump their pals, and try again.
See the bright side. Young folks are endearingly optimistic, especially if given a positive nudge. Optimism is a key ingredient in resilience.
Talk it out. I’ve had more ‘sitting on the step’ conversations with kids, working out a problem. If something’s bothering them, they don’t tend to bottle it up. Younger kids in particular have this refreshing sincerity that helps them share concerns or problems. When it comes to stress, just talking about it is a great first step.
Go play. Kids are the masters of play. Focusing on a fun activity distracts you from what’s bothering you. What’s more, distance from the problem can give you clarity and perspective later.
We talk about how resilient kids are. I think these simple characteristics and habits are a part of that.
Next time you’re feeling anxious or stressed, try tapping into the kid in you!