Let’s face it, we all have stress. It can wear us down, leave us in tears, or push us to making unhealthy choices. But, learning how to handle it makes all the difference. When we teach kids these skills the most important thing to do is introduce the topic, explain and review it.
1. Teach students to understand their stress. Stress is a normal part of everyday lives. There can even be good stress! We want to teach students that good stress can help get tasks done, meet our goals, keep us safe, and excited to try new things. We also have to acknowledge the bad stress, since that is what most students are familiar with. The bad stress is, when we don’t complete tasks, get sick, headaches, prevent us from falling asleep, change in eating habits, irritability and change in relationships. However, we are in luck because there are a lot of ways to manage stress, but we first need to be taught to recognize what stress is.
2. Help students learn to identify the physical and emotional signs of stress and what is causing their stress. This typically will take place during the first small group session, so students have an idea of what stress feels like to them, whether it be good or bad stress.
5. Explain healthy versus unhealthy coping skills. When we know what coping skills we are using, whether healthy or unhealthy, we can use this information to focus our energy on creating healthy coping habits.
Learning to manage stress will take time, patience and practice. This isn’t a one day lesson. It needs to be taught, practiced and put to use in real life situations.