How can I help my daughter cope with stress?

(These tips will be useful for helping your sons, too.) 

Life is stressful! As you probably are aware, stress can be related to positive experiences as well as challenges. Stress does not always effect us negatively; it can be energizing and empowering. However, stress can also really wear us down. Many things can cause stress for children and teens – starting a new school, moving to a new neighborhood, difficulties at school, disappointments and conflict in friendships, changes in your family like a death, illness, separation or divorce, or remarriage. Traumatic experiences can be stressful for all of us – like terrorist attacks, violence in a dating relationship or at home, car accidents, fires, and earthquakes. Some signs of stress to watch for are: lots of worries, loss of appetite, feeling overwhelmed, head and stomach aches, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, irritability, difficulties with focus and concentration, and discouragement.

Solutions for Stressing Less:

1. Consider your own stress level and be reflective about how you cope (what works, what doesn’t). Think about ways you can reduce your own stress. This is helpful for three reasons. You’ll feel better! Stress is contagious – so if you are less stressed, it can help reduce your child’s stress. Finally, “do as I do” – your children can learn from you when you model effective behavior for coping with stress.

2. Be a good listener, non-judgmental and supportive. This will help your child talk about her or his feelings, fears, and worries. And, talking and receiving support are often helpful in reducing stress.

3. Encourage your child to talk with other supportive, good listeners. These might include a coach, a Girl Scout troop leader, a teacher, a counselor, a minister, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual advisor. Research and common sense tell us that young people need numerous mentoring adults in their lives to facilitate their hardiness.

4. Learn, practice and share with your child some helpful ways to reduce stress. Some of these are: regular exercise, deep breathing exercises, talking with others who are supportive listeners, and relaxation. At many book and music stores, you can find audio tapes that guide the listener through breathing and relaxation exercises, accompanied by peaceful music. What are other activities that help restore a sense of calm inside of you? For some, it’s an evening walk, a hot bath in candlelight, reading or listening to music. Others like journal writing, kick boxing, meditating, a laugh-out-loud movie, a crossword puzzle, or half an hour of a computer game.

5. Optimistic self-talk can help! Check out Martin Seligman’s books, Learned Optimism and The Optimistic Child, for more ideas.

6. Check with your child’s or teen’s pediatrician to make sure there are no physical problems contributing to your child’s difficulties with stress.

7. Seek counseling to help you and/or your child to cope with stress. Sometimes stress reactions can turn into or resemble depression or anxiety. A trained professional can be helpful in sorting out what’s going on and what can help.

To learn more about some of the stresses girls face growing up today, click on these books and you’ll be connected to for more information, including purchasing options.

All That She Can Be:
Helping Your Daughter Maintain Her Self-Esteem

by C. Eagle and C. Colman
Published by Fireside Books
Reviving Ophelia:
Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

by M. Pipher
Published by Ballantine Books
School Girls:
Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap

by P. Orenstein
Published by Anchor Books
What Parents Need to Know About Dating Violence
by B. Levy and P. Giggans
Published by Seal Press
Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Being Too Good?
by M. Adderholdt-Elliot
Published by Free Spirit Publishing
When Girls Feel Fat: Helping Girls Through Adolescence
by S. S. Friedman
Published by Firefly Books




PLEASE NOTE: Nothing in what you find here should be construed as medical advice pertinent to any individual. As is true with all written materials, and especially information found on the internet, you must be the judge of what appears valid and useful for yourself. Please take up any questions you might have regarding the content of this web site with your psychotherapist or physician.

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