For example, if you find yourself on hold with customer service and feeling impatient, tell your child, “I really hate being on hold; it’s very annoying. But I’m going to take a few deep breaths and I’ll calm down.” Showing your child your self-control in the moment can be a powerful lesson. You can even work on those skills with your child when she’s not angry. Talking about coping skills like counting or taking deep breaths while she is calm will give your child practice and a skill she can turn to when she’s upset. You can also talk about the times you haven’t succeeded with your self-management to show your child that this is a learned skill that requires work.
As your child ages, she may begin to feel stress as a result of more demanding coursework or the increased social pressures that come with the pre-teen years. You can help your child find ways to reduce stress. For example, if she’s worried about a test, there may be an opportunity to speak with the teacher beforehand or for her to study with a classmate. You may even want to explore physical exercise as a way to manage stress. Many people find simply walking or jogging a great stress release. Teacher Anne Harlam recommends children’s yoga as a fun way for children to relax. The next time your child seems stressed or upset, ask her to join you on a walk, or for a game of basketball, and see if getting her blood pumping also helps to distract her from stress.
Ask your child to assist you with small tasks around the house, like setting the table or laying out clothes for school the next day. Discussing and following through on simple routines and tasks helps develop her self-management and goal-setting skills. It’s teaching order, organization and time management on a small level by having your child work through a set of tasks to complete a goal.
New York City-based teacher Anne Harlam says your child may not always communicate her feelings, but her actions and behaviors may offer clues. For example, if you notice she gets stressed or acts out on days she has tests, sports practice, or music lessons, it means she feels more pressure in these situations than you knew. Noting possible causes of her stress or other emotions can help you find ways to help her manage those feelings.