Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Is your family moving this summer? Moving Stress and Teens

During summer months some families are moving, which can mean changing schools, friends and your familiar neighborhood. If you are in this situation, take the time to read these parenting tips and advice to help create a smoother transition for your child.

Source: Connect with Kids

Moving Stress

“I was sad because I was gonna leave my friends.”

– Amber Griffin, 7

Just a few months ago when their mom said they were moving, Amber, 7, and D’Marcus, 9, had mixed emotions.

“She talked to me first, and I was excited. But I was a little bit sad because, I was sad because I was gonna leave my friends,” says Amber.

“I was afraid of how we were gonna know who our teachers would be, yeah, and how are we gonna know if we have the right things they use in school?” says D’Marcus.

Roughly 16 million American families move each year. And the adjustment can be hard on kids. One of the keys to making it easier is time. Psychologist Gary Santavicca says, “In general, the more preparation you have, the easier a transition is.”

So, he says, start talking about the move as early as possible. And include the kids. Have them get online to learn about the new city’s zoo, their new school or the nearest park. “Different things to help them feel like they’re helping to make it happen, and it’s a family project,” he says.

The kids’ mom, Catherine Mitchell, says she tried to do just that. “I let them know that we were doing this as a family and that it’s not that mom is moving, but that we’re moving as a family,” she says. And she was upbeat about the new town, new school and making new friends. “The bottom line is we communicated throughout the entire transition. We kept a positive attitude. I kept a positive attitude for them.”

And it worked. The kids have made new friends, love their school and have advice for other kids. D’Marcus says: “I would say you shouldn’t be nervous. You should just go ahead and do it and try to meet new people.” And Amber adds, “You don’t have to be afraid, because it’s gonna be okay.”

Tips for Parents
Pressures that are too intense or last too long, or troubles that are shouldered alone, can cause people to feel stress overload. Here are some of the things from the Nemours Foundation that can overwhelm the body's ability to cope if they continue for a long time:

■Being bullied or exposed to violence or injury
Relationship stress, family conflicts, or the heavy emotions that can accompany a broken heart or the death of a loved one
■Ongoing problems with schoolwork related to a learning disability or other problems, such as ADHD (usually once the problem is recognized and the person is given the right learning support the stress disappears)
■Crammed schedules, not having enough time to rest and relax, and always being on the go
The most helpful method of dealing with stress is learning how to manage the stress that comes along with any new challenge, good or bad. Stress-management skills work best when they're used regularly, not just when the pressure's on. Knowing how to "de-stress" and doing it when things are relatively calm can help you get through challenging circumstances that may arise. Here are some tips that can help keep stress under control:

■Take a stand against overscheduling. If you're feeling stretched, consider cutting out an activity or two, opting for just the ones that are most important to you.
■Be realistic. Don't try to be perfect - no one is. And expecting others to be perfect can add to your stress level, too (not to mention put a lot of pressure on them!). If you need help on something, like schoolwork, ask for it.
■Get a good night's sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. Because the biological "sleep clock" shifts during adolescence, many teens prefer staying up a little later at night and sleeping a little later in the morning. But if you stay up late and still need to get up early for school, you may not get all the hours of sleep you need.
■Learn to relax. The body's natural antidote to stress is called the relaxation response. It's your body's opposite of stress, and it creates a sense of well-being and calm. The chemical benefits of the relaxation response can be activated simply by relaxing. You can help trigger the relaxation response by learning simple breathing exercises and then using them when you're caught up in stressful situations.
■Treat your body well. Experts agree that getting regular exercise helps people manage stress. (Excessive or compulsive exercise can contribute to stress, though, so as in all things, use moderation.) And eat well to help your body get the right fuel to function at its best. It's easy when you're stressed out to eat on the run or eat junk food or fast food. But under stressful conditions, the body needs its vitamins and minerals more than ever.
■Centers for Disease Control
Nemours Foundation

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