Try these activities and strategies to help manage the stress of daily life, and help children learn to deal with stress and handle change. Start with one small change, try to see it through and then build up from there.
Focus on your own self-care
- Give yourself permission to focus on your own self-care — and practice a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy snacks and meals, exercise, and get quality sleep to help keep stress at bay. By showing your family you care about your own well-being, you’re teaching them how to respond more positively to stress and even build up their own resilience to it.
- Meet a friend for coffee, listen to music, or make time for some fun activities. When you feel calm, children pick this up and feel better too.
Stick to a daily routine
- Family routines can often help everyone feel more relaxed, organized, and in control. Pick one area to focus on to make a small change – like school mornings, mealtimes, or bedtime rituals. For example, have your child pick out their outfit the night before so they’re ready to go the next morning, or always read a book together before bed.
- If the family is running low on sleep, make it a priority to get back on track. Find tips in our Sleeping Well section that may lead to a better night’s sleep.
Hold a family meeting
- Family meetings can be a good way to connect without distractions, and a way to help improve communication among everyone. Try setting a weekly family meeting to make it part of a regular routine.
- A weekly meeting is an opportunity to check-in and talk about how everyone is doing, including what stress they may be feeling. It can be a time to brainstorm solutions together and help coordinate busy schedules.
- You may want to create some simple rules for your meetings, such as no use of electronics during meetings, or make it fun and kick off the meeting with each person sharing one thing they are grateful for.
Create blank spaces on the calendar
- Review everyone's schedules and plan for the week ahead. Rather than keeping an always full, packed calendar for your child, leave some room for play and down time. Together, discuss if you have to free-up space by letting one activity go.
Carve out more time together
- Make time to connect with your child regularly to relax and talk. When children feel connected, they’re more likely to reach out for help. Enjoy watching a movie together, playing a game in the backyard, going for a walk, or sharing some laughs over a healthy snack.
Move more. Even short bursts are beneficial
- Join your child in a quick game of tag, a living room dance party, or go for a family walk in your neighbourhood, or find a local trail. Find more great ways to make physical activity part of everyday.
Tap into the stress-busting effects of nature
- There’s nothing like getting outdoors to recharge and help de-stress. Even if it’s only for a small window of time, try throwing the ball in the backyard, or taking your child to play on the swings at the park.
Practice a few quick calming strategies
- Teaching your child simple relaxation exercises can help calm a difficult moment, and offer some relief when a situation is starting to feel out of their control.
- You can try deep breathing together - take a deep, slow breath in together, then slowly breathe it back out through your mouths. Learn more relaxation exercises here.
- Pause to notice and appreciate the things we often take for granted, shifting attention away from stress and focusing thoughts on what’s positive.
- Your family can try taking a few minutes to talk about what you’re grateful for that day, or writing down some things you’re thankful for in journals or a list on the fridge door.
To help with setting goals for healthy habits, check out more tips and resources here.