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How To Survive & Manage Your Child's Stress And Anxiety This Summer

Written by: Christine Michele Murray, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Summer is approaching and you are looking forward to enjoying some time with family and friends. The children have finished school: it's a chance for them to relax, have fun and maybe try new activities or clubs, while you can take a break from the school run and make packed lunches. You might even be able to get away on holiday!

It sounds ideal, right? But so often your expectations of a fabulous time, something you have been really looking forward to, don’t marry up with reality. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You need to leave the house but your child is refusing to put their shoes or coat on

  • You are out, and your child has a meltdown: they start shouting or try to run away

  • Your child does not seem to enjoy many activities, won’t co-operate, and seems distracted and withdrawn

Stress responses

Stress responses are designed to keep us safe, but in children, they often highlight needs that are not being met. Your child is not deliberately being badly behaved: they may be overtired, hungry, afraid, unsure, or feeling lonely. Stress response in children can manifest in various ways, maybe you have heard of Flight Flight and Freeze. These are some typical behaviours around these responses:

Fight: yelling, using mean words, hitting, kicking, biting, oppositional and defiant.

Flight: running away, restless, hyperactive, anxious, scared, and overwhelmed.

Freeze: shutting down, verbally unresponsive saying 'I don't know a lot zoned out & daydreaming.

A more comprehensive list of stress responses. Other warning signs and potential situations that can cause stress and anxiety.

A change of routine

During term-time, your child's day is organized for them, so they know what they are doing and when. Holidays have less structure, with more opportunity for spontaneity and, while sometimes exciting, changes in routine can be a massive trigger to children already prone to anxiety.

8 tips to manage your child's stress

1. Stick to the same sleep routine

Stick to your child’s same sleep routine if you can, even when away. Varying sleep routines by more than an hour can take your body a week to readjust to. For young children, try and plan days out around their naps, or take a tent to the park or beach so they can sleep there, instead. Did you know that lack of sleep can affect emotions, mood, brain function appetite, immune system, and body weight? If you or your child are having difficulty sleeping, you'll find a link to my free sleep tips booklet at the end of this article.

2. Stick to a regular wake-up time

Try to stick to a regular wake-up time each day, and ensure your child has a good breakfast, to keep their body fueled and regulated. It helps children to know what the day ahead holds, as much as possible, so use this time to talk through what everyone will be doing. Ask whether they have any questions, as these can help you allay the worries or anxiety they might have.

3. Regular meals and healthy snacks

Regular meals and healthy snacks help with mood and prevent meltdowns caused by hunger. It is fine for them to have treats occasionally, but limit anything containing caffeine, or sugar (chocolate contains both!), to the morning or early afternoon.

After eating sugary foods, our body tends to produce high doses of insulin to combat the sugar high. Once that rush comes to an end, it causes low blood sugar levels, making you feel irritable, tired, and anxious, and can cause headaches, shakiness, and dizziness. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it increases activity in your brain and nervous system, making it difficult to relax or sleep. It can take up to 10 hours to completely clear caffeine from your bloodstream.

4. Priorities hydration

This is always important, but it is also essential in higher temperatures. Being properly hydrated helps to balance mood. If your child will not drink water, pure juice watered down is better than squash. Did you know that drinking enough water can help you think clearly, regulate your body temperature and prevent constipation & kidney stones? The recommendation is that 1-3-year-old children drink approximately 4 cups of liquid a day – milk or water. This increases as they get older around 5 cups for a 4-8-year-old, and 7-8 cups for older children. As an adult, it is recommended that you drink at least 2 liters of water a day.

5. Stay calm, at all times

When a child acts out or melts down, there's a reason for it, even if it doesn't always seem that way. It is easy, as a parent, to become angry or overwhelmed when confronted by a seemingly unreasonable child, but it will help you both if you can stay calm. Take some deep breaths and encourage your child to do the same, before figuring out the cause of their outburst. There's a link to some deep breathing exercises below.

6. Tap the side of the spine when stressed

If your child is extremely upset, tap lightly down either side of their spine. Similar to acupuncture, EFT (or ‘tapping’) works by sending calming signals to the part of the brain that deals with stress responses.

7. Communication is key

If your child is worried about something specific, such as starting a new school in September, or upcoming exams, this may be playing on their mind and causing distress. Make time to talk to, and reassure them. Give clear responses to questions and, if you don’t know the answer, tell them you will find out for them. Often, stress and anxiety come from imagining the worst-case situation, or from fear of the unknown. Our brains do not know the difference between what we are actually experiencing and what we are imagining: the stress response is the same.

8. Remeber, no one is perfect

Please remember: no one is perfect! Even the best plans go astray: you are only human, so be kind to yourself and allow time for your own feelings. There are lots of ways to manage or reduce stress and anxiety, and many only take a few minutes, so can be easily incorporated into daily life. You can find short exercises and suggestions about how to reduce your stress and relax in the free-to-join Facebook group The Holistic Wellbeing Sanctuary link below.

Christine Murray is an Intuitive Holistic Therapist, Healer & Trainer, working online she specialises in supporting you to address, manage and overcome your child's stress, anxiety, and resulting challenging behaviours. Christine lives in South London, with her supportive husband, two teenage sons, and a beautiful cat called Smokey.

Useful links

To find out more about Christine’s services, upcoming training and workshops visit her website. Christine works online so location is not an issue. Book a free discovery call! You can also book a free call with Christine to learn more about Reiki or EFT training (personal use or to practitioner level).

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Christine Michele Murray, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Christine is an experienced Holistic Therapist, Healer and Trainer. As a Therapist she specialises in supporting Parents & Carers to address, manage & overcome their child's stress, anxiety & resulting challenging behaviours. Her Family Centred approach minimises further stress and anxiety to the family, providing tools, techniques and strategies that can be used thouighout life. As a Healer, she shows you how to get back in balance & overcome self-sabotaging patterns of behaviour. As a Trainer, she supports you throughout training and beyond in Emotional Freedom Technique and Reiki, for personal or professional use. Her goal is to train as many people as possible, in these amazing self-help tools



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