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Fairfax County, Virginia

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Christina Paladeau,
Editor, Branch Out

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Kids Get Stressed, Too


Teaching children about self-care helps them rebalance and rejuvenate.

Recognizing the Pressure

Many adults are familiar with the concept of mindfulness and the importance of self-care. Parents, however, may not be as familiar with guiding these practices for children, but it’s a need that should be addressed and a valuable way to promote kids’ wellbeing.

According to a study in Patient Education and Counseling journal, most children ages 4-11 were able to define stress, with older children providing more complex responses. In another study, the American Psychological Association reported that 43% of children ages 8-17 worry about family finances, doing well in school and/or getting into a good college. The added problem? Parents largely did not notice the stress on their children.

How Can You Help?

With children susceptible to feelings of stress and overload, it’s important to teach them how to manage their commitments and schedule time to rejuvenate. Caregivers can help kids balance their stress levels with the following routines.

  • Make time for play. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, play helps children learn and reduce stress at the same time. Play lifts their spirits and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress. If some activities, like sports, become more about winning or achievement than fun, be sure to schedule time for play that is purely for fun.
  • Ensure they get enough sleep. Regular, quality sleep is important for good physical and mental health.
  • Teach children to problem-solve. Helping children learn to deal with their mistakes and figure out their problems will aid them in building resilience.
  •  Help them learn to express their anxiety. Listen to their fears and ask questions to help them verbalize their thoughts and emotions. Sharing their feelings will help manage their stress and establish healthy coping habits.
  • Model good behaviors. Children look to the adults in their lives for cues on how to behave. Modelling a positive approach will give them constructive steps to follow as their understanding and experience of stress develops with age.

Relax at the Library

The library offers plenty of opportunities for kids to enjoy down time. Take in a family movie at the Kingstowne, Woodrow Wilson or Richard Byrd branches or wind down with Yoga Storytime at Centreville Regional. If games pique their interest, check out Game Time at Woodrow Wilson or BINGO at Dolley Madison.

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