WebMD Town Hall: A Stressed-Out Kid

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Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD
Preparing for tests really stresses out my child. How can I help him relax?

Hansa Bhargava, MD
Well, I think a lot of parents feel that way, and I certainly see a lot of parents in my practice coming in asking those questions as well. It's really important to pay attention to your children's moods and stress levels. And to prepare for a test specifically, it's a good idea to sit down with them, talk to them about what's stressing them out, no matter what it is, and have an organized way of handling it. The most important thing you can do for your child is really to talk to them. If you can carve out time to talk to them, whether it's a family meal or a family breakfast or, you know, wherever you can find the time, on the car ride home. Sometimes I pick up my kids from school and I ask them how their day was. And it's wonderful. It's a 30 minute ride, and I can actually talk to them and find out what's going on in their minds. So if you can talk to them, you'll actually find out what's stressing them out and you can help them. And again, going back to what Mrs. Obama was saying, if you cut out some of that media time, some of that, you know, Xbox or video time or TV time, you'll actually find the time not only to move, but to connect as a family. And the more you connect as a family, the less likely they're going to be depressed, less likely they're going to go and do drugs, less likely they're going to smoke, I mean, there's been plenty of research to show this. So as a mom, I know that it's hard with everything that you have on your plate, but we have to prioritize and just talk to our children.