Friday, September 2, 2011 South Delta Leader
Stress busting for school kids Tips on getting your youngster ready for full-day kindergarten Over the past few weeks Reach Child and Youth Development Society has provided information for parents to help prepare their children for full-day kindergarten classes that start in September for all schools in B.C. This is the third in a series. Previous columns are available at southdeltaleader. com. Click on the community tab. —Editor This September full-day kindergarten will be part of every school in British Columbia. We often forget how stressful school can be for children, and many these days are showing signs of stress overload, even in the preschool and elementary years. Stress is not always bad. It's our body’s reaction to demands on our time, energy and strength. It keeps us motivated to work hard and achieve our goals. But being overstressed can cause us to become ill and discouraged. Children experience stress in the same way adults do, though their signs may be more subtle, such as physical upsets, sleeping problems, irritability and regres-
sion. There are many things you can do to help prevent your child from becoming overstressed during the school years. Limit afterschool activities. There are so many programs; sports, music, tutoring. But it can be too much of a good thing. Each child is different and can handle more or fewer activities per week, so pay attention to their behaviour and what they tell you. Too many activities will overload your child and cause difficulties in other areas of their life. Provide time for play and relaxation. Many children are not getting the physical activity they need to develop strong muscles, hearts and social connections. Get together with neighbours to designate a block play time at a certain time each day (after school or dinner) so that all children on the block are not going to each others’ houses to play video games, but are outside playing together. Join them as well. Model good behaviours. Don’t overload yourself and then complain about being stressed. Show your child how you limit your activities, exercise regularly and
take needed breaks. Talk about stress and problem-solve with them about how to deal with difficult situations. Stress reduction also involves finding good solutions to problems. Schedule family downtime. When you see signs of stress in your child, such as not sleeping well, not wanting to go to school, or being teary or irritable, spend some time together doing what they want to do. Young children may like imaginary play with action figures or dolls or to play outside. An older child may want you to play games with them or go for ice cream. The important thing is to let them know that you are paying attention to them and that they are more important than any list or agenda you have. Stress in families is normal, but doesn’t have to be constant or overly difficult. As long as you can have periods of fun, relaxation and togetherness, the stress of day-today life can be bearable. Yvonne McKenna is Counsellor and Infant Development Consultant for Reach Child and Youth Development Society.
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