Workbook can help kids, parents deal with stress

Posted March 11, 2009, at 8:23 p.m.

Kids. Rules.

Got plenty of the first and not enough of the second? Maybe it’s time to work on that — not only for your benefit, but for the well-being of your children.

A simple form setting up some rules on bedtime, chores, meals, even TV, is part of Activity 3, Setting Clear Limits, in “The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook for Kids,” co-written by Dr. Lawrence E. Shapiro and licensed counselor Robin K. Sprague.

Sprague, who practices in Bangor, will give a free lecture, “How to Help Your Kids Cope with Stress and Worry,” at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at Bangor Public Library.

The 130-page book contains many forms that a child can fill out with grown-up help — including one for things that cause stress, the times of day they occur, and things to do to reduce the stress.

Another page asks the child, “Where Do You Feel Stress?’’ with an accompanying outline of a person. Children can color the places where they feel stress.

“Kids have a different set of worries,” said Sprague, who said that she has seen more than her share of families in distress. “Kids worry about ‘kid things’ like being bullied, or doing well on a test, or making the basketball team, and they worry about adult things, too. They worry if they hear their parents fighting and arguing, they worry when they hear that a parent has lost a job, and they worry if a parent or grandparent is ill.

“Kids may not talk about their worries in the same way as adults,” Sprague said, “but they suffer just the same. Stress and worry take a toll on the mind and the body. And like adults, kids seem to have more stress now than ever.”

The 55 activities in the book are intended to help youngsters become more self-reliant and keep a positive attitude.

A chapter on correct breathing offers activities: Spell Your Name with Belly Breaths; How Great I Am; My Favorite Things; and Breathing Happy Thoughts.

Other chapters cover guided imagery, mindfulness, yoga for kids, relaxing through art, playing to relax and laughing to relax.

Activities range from Helping Children Go to Sleep and Getting Rid of Stomachaches to Memory Beads and A Kaboodle of Silly Words.

“It doesn’t really matter what kind of relaxation technique you practice at home, as long as you do it consistently,” Sprague said. “We want parents to build relaxation and stress reduction techniques into their child’s daily life, because we know that this will help them both physically and mentally throughout their lifetime.”

As for teaching these practices to a child, well, that could be pretty good for Mom or Dad, too.

“The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook for Kids” retails for $16.95 and is published by Instant Help Books, a division of New Harbinger Publications. Books will be available for purchase and signing at Sprague’s talk, or may be obtained from www.parentchild411.com.

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