10 ways to help your child with learning challenges (and others, too) cope with grade school stresses
Blow off steam, create a “can do” mantra, celebrate victories, and more
Grade school in most of our minds is still a place of innocence, curiosity, excitement, and emotional and physical safety.
But – points out Understood, a coalition that focuses on children with learning issues – the grade school years can also be full of stressful challenges.
Understood offers 10 commonsense and matter-of-fact stress-busters that might make sense for all parents and children.
Among our favorites:
1 Help her figure out how she’s feeling.
Mention you’ve noticed something has been bothering her. Help her put a name on what it might be. “Are you feeling scared about reading out loud in Ms. Smith’s class?” Simply talking about feelings can be a relief.
2 Help her prepare for new things.
If your child is going to start a new activity, such as karate, visit ahead of time. Let her meet the lady at the front desk, check out the bathroom, and see the dojo. Ask the teacher to describe what she’ll do the first day of class. If the new activity seems familiar, your child won’t feel nearly as much anxiety about participating.
3 Celebrate even the smallest victories.
Most kids feel some stress when facing a new challenge. Watch for opportunities to praise accomplishments. It could be as simple as finishing three word problems without getting up. Knowing what success feels like may help her feel less overwhelmed and panicked when facing bigger challenges.
4 Help her create a “can do” mantra.
Suggest phrases she can repeat when facing stressful situations. “I am not afraid to try” or “I can do this” are two good examples. These thoughts will crowd out negative talk (“I’m too stupid to do this!”). Repeating the words over and over can be soothing.
5 Blow off steam!
Stress can build up like steam in a locomotive. Make exercise a part of everyday life for her and the whole family. Sign up for a membership at your local Y and go together. Show her how to jump rope, sing out loud or dance to her favorite song between homework assignments.
Visit the Understood website for issues affecting learning-challenged children.
Read the complete list of 10 ways to help your grade schooler reduce stress.
Egg burritos, yogurt parfaits, fresh fruit, and waffles
What nutritionist/parents feed their kids for breakfast
You might wish your parents had been nutritionists after reading writer Caroline Bologna’s recent article for Parenting magazine. Bologna asked nutritionists who are also parents what they serve their children for breakfast.
For some, the standby is scrambled eggs.
“My youngest daughter prefers egg burritos, which we make with organic flour tortillas, scrambled eggs and shredded cheese,” reported Rick Hall, a dietitian at Arizona State University. “My wife keeps already cleaned-and-cut fruit in the refrigerator ready-to-go for the kids to eat; so fruit often makes it into our breakfast as a side dish.”
“Cereals are fast and easy,” noted dietitian Maya Feller for the article. “I look for ones that are 5 grams of sugar or less per serving. We will top them with seasonal fruit and/or nuts and seeds to boost the nutrient content. We like muesli because, although calorically dense, both of my kids are active and exceed 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
Other popular entries were smoothies, yogurt parfaits, and waffles.
Now we’re hungry, too!
Connect with the entire breakfast list on the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds website.
10 nutritionists talk about the snacks they take to work, from soup to nuts (literally).
Other approaches to youth sports
Picking the one – or another activity altogether – that works
“Sports” is a big category. It can include team sports with lots of gear, coaches, teammates,and special settings like football fields and ice rinks.
Or the team might just need a soccer ball or a volleyball and a net.
A sport might be two people playing tennis or one person and a swimming pool.
“Team sports also can be a great experience,” KidsHealth from Nemours states.
“Kids get to improve their skills and feel that team spirit as they work together toward a common goal.”
On the other hand, and on behalf of your child, KidsHealth asks, “What if I don’t like sports?”
Don’t know the rules, can’t practice, bad experience, left out
KidsHealth names lots of reasons why a young person might feel uncomfortable with sports: the rules are complex, a busy or absent parent who can’t practice, a bullying experience, too much pressure.
KidsHealth offers suggestions: talking to the coach, joining a no-pressure league, counseling your child.
Individual sports or, perhaps, other physical activity
KidsHealth also suggests that sports like swimming, biking, wrestling, tennis, golf, and skating could be the ticket.
But if competition is just not your child’s choice, plenty of healthy, enjoyable, rewarding activities remain. And, he or she can invite others along. We’re talking gardening, raking, hiking, dogwalking, bowling, and washing your car (every week).
Visit KidsHealth from Nemours via our website.
Spots still available for March 10 & 17 YMHFA training
More than ever, learn when a youth is suffering emotionally
You are just as likely to encounter someone in mental health crisis as one who needs CPR, if not more often, points out South County Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Director Susan Orban.
The need has never been greater for parents, afterschool programs, educators, camp counselors, juvenile police officers, and others to know the early signs. And what to do until professionals get involved.
In response, HBHM and the Washington County Council for Children work with the international Mental Health First Aid to train local residents – for free – in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA).
Openings remain for the 8-hour Saturday, March 10 and Saturday, March 17 training (the program is split into two sessions). The training will be held at Westerly Hospital from 8 am-12:30 pm.
Other trainings for both Youth Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health First Aid are offered at multiple locations throughout the year.
To register (required) or for more information, contact Donna Greene at (401) 788-2371.
Visit www.washcokids.org for other trainings.