School in the tri-county area is almost back in session. As you prepare to send your children off to class, this might be a good time to take a step back to evaluate the school-year schedule. Is your child in sports? Do they take part in after school activities? How much homework might their new teachers assign? Do they have good friends at school?
The answers to these questions can all impact your child’s resistance to stress.
Though stress is usually attributed to adults or teenagers, children are also susceptible to stress, especially during school. Anything from being overwhelmed with homework, to not understanding something, to experiencing problems with friends or classmates could trigger stress. Your child could also pick up on situations at home that could cause them stress.
Keep an eye out for the warning signs. Your child may become more irritable, act out or change their normal behavior. They may cry more easily.
Always be open and eager to listen to your children, and encourage them so that they are comfortable coming to you if they feel stressed. Make sure your child knows that you’re available to help, whether it’s with homework or with friend trouble.
Here are some other ways to help your child deal with stress:
- Make sure they keep to a routine, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time.
- Set aside time for homework each day.
- Schedule family time.
- Have playtime built into their everyday routine.
With the increase of homework and the added pressure of responsibilities earlier in a child’s life, playtime is beneficial. Sometimes kids just need to be kids. You could also use playtime to make learning more fun.
In general, I recommend that kids try to get at least 30-60 minutes of activity or exercise daily. This goes hand in hand with limiting screen time, which is important to enforce with children in this day and age.
Getting enough exercise works in tandem with getting enough sleep to keep children functioning at their best. During the school year, most children should get at least 10 hours of sleep at night, but depending on the child, that number can vary from nine to 12 hours.
Paying attention to the amount of sleep, physical activity and playtime that a child gets is key to keeping their stress levels low.
Have a great school year!
About the Author: Jill Wilkens is a physician assistant at the Tri-County Health Care Wadena Clinic. A native of Long Prairie, Jill previously worked at the New Ulm Medical Center and has been in Wadena since 2011. She and her husband, Shayne, have two children and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.