Stressed-Out Kids, Parents, Teachers: How to Cope


Not all stress is to be avoided. According to our guests there are three different types of stress: positive stress, tolerable stress, and toxic stress. Teachers need to be able to distinguish the different types and the symptoms of stress in children to help them manage stress effectively.

One proven way to help children manage their stress is to teach them to handle challenges on their own – so they feel a sense of control! My guests offer suggestions for doing just that.

To Read

Ellen Galinsky’s piece, “Helping Children to Learn to Take on Challenges”:

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (includes a chapter on helping children learn to take on challenges):

To Watch

Professor Carol Dweck explains research which shows how important it is for learners to link success with their effort:

Megan Gunnar, “How We React to Challenge”:

To Play

This simple game challenges children to test their skills. But because the risk is minimal and they can choose how and when they want to increase the challenge, the children feel a sense of control.

The Tightrope

Place several long jump ropes in straight lines on the floor or ground. Then invite the children to pretend they’re walking the tightrope like acrobats in the circus. Once the children are comfortable walking in a forward direction, invite them to try to walk sideways in both directions and, finally, backward.

The next step is for the children to try different locomotor skills. You can either assign different skills – such as tiptoeing, galloping, and hopping – or add a problem-solving element to the activity. For example, challenge them to find three different ways to move across the tightrope in a forward direction.

Adapted from Great Games for Young Children by Rae Pica (Silver Spring, MD: Gryphon House, 2006)



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