Notebooks, tablets, markers, crayons, clothes, shoes . . . everything a kid needs to be successful in school, right? Not necessarily.
In our frenzy to get all the necessary “stuff” our kids need, we often forget about equipping them with the skills it takes to feel confident navigating new halls, meeting new teachers, tackling new subjects and facing new social situations without completely stressing out.
When kids complain about having an upset stomach, headache, or have a meltdown for no apparent reason, they may be communicating that their stress response alarm is sounding.
The stress response, sometimes called Fight-Flight-Freeze, is a built-in survival mechanism to help us respond to threats. It works the same whether that threat is real, or when we just believe it is. Stress hormones are released to give us the energy to fight back and defend ourselves, run away from the offending situation, or freeze like a deer in headlights.
Kids always seem to have that tummy-ache or break-down when we are on our last nerve. Rather than reacting out of anger or frustration, try using these three easy steps to help kids recognize the stress response and process their feelings:
Step 1: Validate their feelings using statements like, “I can see you’re really angry, scared, worried right now.”
Step 2: Create body awareness by asking, “Where do you feel that (anger, fear, worry) in your body?”
Step 3: Help them understand what triggered their physical response with questions such as, “What made you feel this way?”
Equipping your kids with ways to manage stress and regulate their emotions will help them feel secure and confident no matter what situation life throws at them. For help in determining how your child responds to stress, we’ve created this tool: Is Your Child a Fighter, Flighter or Freezer? You can download by clicking on the linked text.