By Georgina El Morshdy
The past few years have been tough for children. Factors such as the pandemic, home learning, and the rise of climate anxiety have piled on the pressure. As young people return to school, it’s an excellent time to explore ways to support their mental well-being as well as their academic success, so they’re empowered to live happy, healthy, well-rounded lives.
Check out these top tips.
1. Learn to prioritize.
Back to school means more commitments and responsibilities for young people. Homework, chores, hobbies, passion, etc. It can feel like a lot to hold!
It’s important to manage the workload so it doesn’t become overwhelming (which can lead to burnout). The skill of prioritization can help. As individuals, we can do a lot -- but we can’t do everything at once.
Pareto’s Law - where 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes - can help us understand this. The 80/20 Rule is a reminder that not all actions create equal results. We need to look for the biggest levers and be sure to pull those. Get smart at knowing what inputs will deliver the most significant return on investment. Work smarter, not harder!
When young people intentionally spend their time, money, and energy, they’re better equipped to get the important stuff done. Not only does prioritization help reduce stress, it can boost happiness by creating more wins.
2. Practice setting goals.
Goals are a powerful way to create focus, direction, and meaning.
We can get stressed or become disillusioned and distracted when we feel like passive bystanders in our lives. The right goals empower young people to sit in the driver’s seat and take actions that move them in the direction they want to go.
A good goal has a specific outcome, is measurable, feels achievable and realistic, and has a deadline for completion. Goals should stretch you, but they shouldn’t overwhelm you.
Working towards goals provides a brilliant opportunity for young people to work on their success mindset. For example:
• How do they cope with failure? Are they able to learn from mistakes, or do they feel defeated quickly?
• How can they cultivate discipline?
• What habits can they adopt to help them succeed?
3. Get good at scheduling.
Overwhelm and looming deadlines are key causes of school stress. Scheduling is a simple but powerful skill that can give young people the confidence that they’ve got it covered.
Scheduling helps you meet deadlines, do your best work, and organize yourself to check through everything on your to-do list.
Scheduling is also a great way to ensure time isn’t squandered; helping young people to hit their deadlines and hand in quality work.
Scheduling skills also ensure there’s space for school-life balance.
School’s not fun if it’s all assignments, homework, and studying. Young people need downtime too. Support kids to plan their time, and they’ll have space in their life for play dates, sports, and hobbies that ensure children live well-rounded lives.
Weekly Action Pad
Weekly Planner for Kids & Families (digital download)
4. Create external brains.
The human brain works best when it’s used for creativity and problem-solving. Encourage children to create ‘external brains’ to free up bandwidth and release the need to remember everything.
To-do lists are a great way to keep up with tasks and deadlines.
Journaling is another skill that can empower young people to work through their thoughts and emotions. With journaling, you can get stuff out of your head and onto paper and create more mental clarity.
Weekly Action Pad
Writing Your Best Self podcast
5. Make space for creativity.
School schedules can be restrictive and rigid. They have to be to ensure everything gets done! However, our creative sides crave more freedom. Make sure young people have the space to explore their ideas and let their imaginations run free.
Jim Rohn famously said you only need one idea to change your life.
Encouraging children to explore their ideas, solve problems, and express themselves is a potent way to boost resilience and self-confidence.
28-day Creativity Challenge
Art Therapy Exercises for Kids
52 List Journaling Prompts
In this digital age, we spend more time hooked up to tech. 24/7 entertainment, streaming services, and social media mean we risk constant distractions. Science has found the average human attention span is now less than a goldfish’s!
Making quality time to talk - without technological distractions - is a great way to stay connected as a family. Stress can often cause people to shut down. Keeping lines of communication open is a powerful way to stay alert for those times when children need extra support.
Face-to-face conversations are a great way to keep tabs on how young people feel - especially because you can see body language and facial expressions.
Conversations also encourage young people to express themselves, articulate their ideas, and learn to hear other people’s thoughts and opinions.
7. Explore strategies for managing stress.
We live in a busy, fast-paced world, and stress is an inevitable side-effect of that lifestyle.
The good news is there are many proven ways to manage stress. It’s wise to figure out the strategies, tools, and modalities that work best for kids. Examples include yoga, mindfulness, journaling, etc.
Stress Management Toolkit
Little Hero’s Journal
Stress is an ever-present feature in the lives of us all.
Empowering children from a young age to recognize stress and manage it effectively is a powerful way to empower them to become their best selves.