Openly talking about feelings can be difficult for everyone. However, most adults are encouraged to express their emotions and discuss stresses that they deal with in life. This is even more important for children as they can struggle to cope with their feelings. This is due to being unfamiliar with complex emotions and this can lead to over-stimulation and worry.
We have collected some useful information and tips on stress relief to help you support your pupils.
Signs of stress
Home issues and an overload of work can lead to children feeling stressed. It is important to keep an eye out for vital signs that point to a child being stressed. These are:
- Difficulty focusing in class
- Physical symptoms such as headaches and bellyache
- Aggressive or stubborn behaviour
- Bursts of anger and crying
- Fear of new or reoccurring things e.g. fear of being alone.
Talking about your feelings
A simple first step in helping your class manage their stress is by talking. Kids tend to not understand certain emotions and why they are feeling them so create a safe, comfortable space for them to open up and express themselves. Guide them to talk about what’s bothering them so you can tackle the root of the problem and offer guidance and support to overcome the stress.
Create manageable workloads
Another vital aspect of children’s stress is their workload in school and out of school. Teachers have to find the right balance for their pupils otherwise they can become overwhelmed. Homework is one of the main causes of their stress as they put pressure on themselves to do well. To relieve that pressure teachers can reassure their pupils with positive feedback for even the smallest of tasks, this can be verbal, written or in the form of fun stickers!
Also, make sure to soothe their worries by striking the right balance between telling them not to put pressure on themselves and asserting the importance of doing their best. This can be done by breaking tasks down for pupils.
Bear in mind that some pupils will need extra support, where you can go through their work together on a one-to-one basis.
Five steps to combat children’s stress
These five steps can be integrated into your normal classes. Set aside times to take the children away from their work and plan them (you may want to create a scheduled timetable to slot them in). It is important to make sure you break the day up so that any stress won’t build throughout the day.
1) Turn circle time into group stress management techniques.
These can include deep breathing, stretching, listening to music, meditation and practising mindfulness.
2) Include problem-solving into classes.
You could do this by brainstorming solutions for a range of problems that connect to stress, choosing positives and negatives to each solution. This will develop problem-solving skills as well as explore ways to help overcome stress-related issues.
3) Hold discussions
These can be as a group as well as one to one, for the children that need extra support, guidance, and comfort. You can slot these times at lunch or after school and the group ones can occur during the school day. This allows children to openly communicate and learn other experiences, which can lead to feeling less alone with their emotions. This will improve their stress as the worry gets taken away.
4) Get outdoors
Arrange for some classes to take place outside or even go on a nature walk! Fresh air does a world of good for anyone and is a key activity to relieve stress.
5) Have quiet time
Take some time where your pupils can relax and have a breath. This breaks the day up for them, so they don’t get overloaded with their work and allows their minds to wander and quieten, directing them away from their worries.
There are many other ways to reduce children’s stress that are worth trying out to ensure that your pupils relieve any tension, therefore feeling overall happier.
A good way that is fun and relieves any stress is through playing musical instruments. Make some time to do a short music class with a range of instruments they can choose from. These can be simple percussion items such as maracas or tambourines. Playing an instrument or getting involved with a music class makes children focus which helps take their mind off any stress they may have.
Reading together as a class is a useful way to calm pupils down. To help them learn about emotions and understand them, you can choose a book on stress and emotions. This is a fun and easy way for children to grasp the topic through stories!
Check out this book list, all based on emotions and stress, below:
- What’s going on inside my head? By Molly Potter
- No Worries! Activity Book. By Dr Sharie Coombes
- What to do when you worry too much. By Dawn Huebner
- Don’t Worry Be Happy. By Poppy O’Neill
- Mindful Monsters. By Sylva Fae
Useful products that help relieve stress
This mindfulness shuffle game is great with allowing children to deal with the stresses of life as well as connecting to the here and now. This is a great game to use during class to help your pupils cope with over-stimulation and anxiety.
The feelings flips assist children to understand how people can act when feeling different emotions, as well as showing them what they can do when they feel those emotions. Plus, it helps communicate to you how they are feeling so you can support them. These can be used during classes and discussions/one to ones!
Our calming coins are designed to help children cope with their emotions and communicate them easier. They can give children a solution to solve their problems, therefore, calming them down. The coins come in good use when a child is upset or angry but can be used at any time. They will come in handy to teach mindfulness to your class.