Helping Children Manage Stress

Many things can cause your child stress: a change in routine, having a new caregiver, starting or changing daycares/schools, a new sibling, or even our own stress can trigger our children. We can’t prevent our children from getting stressed, but what we can do is help manage it.


When stress becomes an everyday occurrence, this raises the hormone Cortisol; having Cortisol increased for a long period of time can affect your child’s developing brain. Learn more HERE about stress and your child.

You may notice when your child is stressed, their behavior may change, they may become more irritable, or more withdrawn. They may not sleep as well, or sleep too much, refuse to eat or overeat. There may be an increase in tantrum behaviors or engage in behavior regression (behaviors that you thought they had grown out of).


Ways to help


-Connecting with you or another significant person in their life; reassurance, hugs, kisses and playing together can go a long way in helping your child reduce their stress levels.


-Writing a feelings story together

-Have your child express their feelings in a book, using simple words to explain the situation and what they can do to help themselves when they becomes stressed. Use your child’s words and have them draw  their own pictures.


-Help your child find ways to express their feelings. Helping your children understand and utilize words for different feelings: nervous, anxious, sad, restless, frustrated, etc. You can find illustrations and videos to further explain what bigger feelings feel like.


-Using sensory activities to help regulate your child’s emotions. Going for a walk, pouring sand, squeezing play-doh can help calm your child. Have your child roar like a lion or punch a pillow to get their frustrations out.


-Teaching coping skills; find what your child likes to do and use that as a coping skill: deep breathing, reading, coloring, going to the park, watching a favorite movie or TV show.


-We can also help by adopting healthy habits to manage our own stress. We can share with our children what we like to do when we’re stressed and then engage in those habits to encourage our children to do the same.


-Establishing daily routines can help ease some of the stress children face; when they know what to expect everyday then they can prepare for it.


-Allowing choices, provide your child with choices to regain a sense of control.



Not all stress is negative, stress can be beneficial to others when personal goals need to be reached, when kids need to face challenging situations or adapt to changes. But when stress begins to impact your child’s daily life that’s when we as parents and caregivers step in to help them out.