The stressors faced by today’s students are well documented: pressure to perform well in school, to take on lots of extracurriculars, to fit in socially, and to be a good friend and sibling, just to name a few. It can all add up to more than students—and their parents—feel like they can cope with.
But there are steps kids and parents alike can take to manage better even in the midst of chaos. Former Heathwood counselor Claudia Guignard shared several of them with Heathwood parents in a November 6 talk entitled “Self-Regulating Tactics: helping kids cope in a fast-paced world.”
Noting that there are many factors—from emotions to schedules to growth spurts—that can send children into a tailspin, Ms. Guignard identified self-regulation as an important first step in achieving greater balance. Quoting from Dr. Stuart Shanker, author of Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life, she distinguished between self control and self regulation: “Self control is about inhibiting impulses; self regulation is about identifying the causes and reducing the intensity of impulses, and when necessary, having the energy to resist. Self regulation is what makes self control possible.”
If self control is an end result, in other words, self regulation is a process. Ms. Guignard identified five key steps kids and their parents can follow along the way:
- Read the signs and reframe the behavior
- Identify the stress
- Reduce the stress
- Reflect. Become aware when you are overstressed
- Respond. Figure out what helps you calm, rest, and recover
Ms. Guignard also provided a list of resources, including relaxation apps for anxious kids, mindfulness strategies, and parenting books.
The upshot: managing stress isn’t always easy in today’s hectic world, but it can be done, and approaching it as a self regulation process will mitigate stress and anxiety for kids and parents alike.
About Claudia Guignard: Ms. Guignard spent more than twenty years of her professional life at Heathwood Hall working with students, parents, and faculty. She is currently in private practice where her focus has been on coaching clients to achieve balance and fulfillment in their private lives, as well as their professional lives. Claudia earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Emory University, and both a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology and a Specialist Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy from the University of South Carolina.