2010-11-01 / Health

‘I’m stressed; now what?’

By Elissa Bowes
If your girl is stressed, upset or angry, read on for tips on how to help her calm down and figure out her next move.

• Encourage your daughter to acknowledge that she’s feeling anxious or stressed. It’s a positive first step for a girl to say, “I’m angry, upset, stressed or frustrated!” That’s so much better than pretending she’s not upset when clearly she is. The first step in solving any challenge is to first acknowledge that there is actually a challenge at hand.

• Help her calm down. It’s the best thing she can do for herself and the people around her. Breathe, count to 10, listen to music, take a break or a short walk. Whatever it takes to calm down is good as long as it’s legal, healthy, respectful and not against your core values.

• Think about your goal. Ask your daughter what she wants to see happen in this situation. What’s her goal?

• Think some more. Ask, “Do you have any control over making this happen?”, “How could you make this happen?” or “How could you get there?” If what she wants involves a change in someone else’s feelings or behavior, then that goal is out of her hands. She has to let it go. Instead, she needs to create a goal that has to do with her own choices and responses. That’s the only thing she can control.

• Ask, “What are your options?” Help her make a list of (or verbally discuss) all of her options and encourage her to predict what might happen if she chooses any of them. This is an exercise in critical thinking and problem solving. Let her think things through and come to her own conclusions. Your job is to facilitate and support this process, not judge or criticize.

• Ask her to choose the option that best helps the situation. Advise her that options which hurt other people, anger them, or put her at risk will only make things worse.

• Take action. Encourage your daughter to act on the option that makes the most sense and suits her.

• Congratulate her for calming down, thinking things through and having the courage to share her feelings with you, and congratulate yourself for helping your daughter walk through this. Like any other new skill this will become easier over time.

Want more ways to create a positive and healthy relationship with your girl? Contact Elissa Bowes at elissa@higherartnj. com, or call 732-252-5489. Bowes, MA, ATR-BC, is an art therapist and owner of Higher Art LLC in Manalapan. She specializes in teaching girls ages 8-18 and their parents creative tools to help build confidence and positively manage their emotions. Her office is located at 28 Plaza 9. For more information, visit www.higherartnj. com.

Return to top