Stress Management Activities for Kids

Instructor: Derek Hughes

Derek has a Masters of Science degree in Teaching, Learning & Curriculum.

Young students are often very susceptible to stress but don't have the tools to deal with it. This lesson will provide several activities and strategies you can use in your classroom to help your students manage stress.

What is Stress Management

If you are like every other person alive, you probably have periods of great stress in your life. However, you probably have some methods you use to deal with and manage this stress. Stress management is the way we handle and reduce the stresses of daily life. Now imagine being a young child and not really understanding the stress you are feeling. On top of that, imagine having very few tools and strategies to turn to manage your stress. That probably sounds very stressful!

By using the activities and strategies in this lesson, you can help your students learn to manage their stress so they can get back to working and learning.

Cool Down Spot

Often, the best way to manage stress is just to take a time out and relax. However, students in school may sometimes feel like they are expected to be working all day and feel they can't just take a short break. By creating a cool down spot in your room, students can have a place to go to de-stress and relax for a few minutes.

There are several things you may want to incorporate into your cool down spot. First, you want it to be partially secluded from the rest of the room, so students don't feel they are being stared at or judged for using it. By designating a corner of the room and strategically placing bookshelves, you can obscure many students' views of the corner while still allowing you to monitor whoever is sitting there. There are a variety of creative ways you can set up your corner beyond bookshelves. For example, you can buy a children's tent that students can sit in.

Also, include a few comfort items in the cool down spot. These can be pillows, stuffed animals, or bean bags. If you think of the ways you manage stress, very few of them involve sitting on a hard, cold floor. You want your students to be able to relax while they are reducing their stress. Soft items and soft places to sit are incredibly useful for this.

Finally, you want to include some signs or posters of strategies students can use while using the cool down spot. These can be as simple as a set of instructions to help clear students' minds. There are many different lists and checklists available that you can print and laminate to hang up in your cool down spot.

When establishing your cool down spot, it is important to make sure that students understand the purpose and proper use of the area. You may want to set a time limit for students using the spot. It is also useful to make sure students understand that the spot is only for when they are feeling incredibly stressed, overwhelmed, or emotionally burdened. Use your discretion if it seems certain students are abusing the cool down spot and only going there to get out of doing work.

Whole Group Stress Management

As a teacher, you probably know that there are some days when it feels like you are pushing the students to their limits, and then some. With the increasing rigor in education, some days may feel like too much for both you and your students. While it may seem impossible to take a few minutes of the day to do a stress relieving activity, it is often more useful to give your students a break than to keep pushing them.

There are several short, whole group activities you can use to give your students a break while also teaching them stress management skills. For example, you can simply have your students stand up at their desks and do various stretches and breathing activities. While doing these, indicate to your students that deep breathing and stretching are great ways to make themselves feel better if they are anxious, stressed, or emotional. Encourage your students to use these stretches and breathing activities whenever they feel they need them and then get right back to work.

Many people use music as a stress reliever, so playing calming music while your students are working in groups or independently can lower the overall stress level in the classroom. There are probably many times when you put on calming music just to sit and relax. This music has a similar effect on students and creates a calm, relaxing classroom atmosphere in which students can work.

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