A new report released this week gives a fascinating insight into the stress British kids - some as young as five - suffer. Bold 2-in-1 Lavender and Camomile's 'Soothing Family Life' report was commissioned to investigate this escalating problem and to give parents practical help and advice to soothe stressful family situations.
Even the simplest school tests are a major stress culprit, with around half of all kids - and a similar percentage of parents - reporting tests and exams make them feel downright miserable. It has been reported that this exam stress has risen by 50% to an all time high in the last 12 months(1). Furthermore 'pushy parents' who pressure their children to constantly practice for exams can do more harm than good.
The report found three other main stress factors for kids in the UK today:
Increased parental stress - mum and dad's anxiety rubs off on the kids and means they can't cope as well
'Life events' - understandably, any traumatic events will add to a child's stress and ability to handle it
Family situation - for example, boys tend to be more stressed if they don't have a strong male role model; girls if they don't have a close parental bond
A soothing panel of experts helped put the report together and offer help for parents so they can recognise and then help to soothe kids' stress. They include celebrity working mum Kim Wilde, who offers her real-life advice, along with insight from report co-ordinator Dr Terri Apter of Cambridge University and advice from parenting expert Dr Pat Spungen.
Dr Apter comments, "The results of Bold 2-in-1 Lavender and Camomile's 'Soothing Family Life' report have fascinating implications for how we treat boys and girls at school and at home."
She continues "For example, we know girls generally tend to do better in exams than boys and our findings show now might be the time to reconsider how we treat boys and girls in order to soothe their academic stress. Generally, families need more soothing moments together to ensure kids don't get stressed out."
Some of the key findings highlighted by the study include:
About half of all kids - and a similar percentage of parents - say exams and even the simplest school tests raise stress levels and make them feel downright miserable
Boys' stresses tend not to be academically driven but are more to do with family stability The balance between encouraging children to do their best and being a 'pushy parent' is a hard one to achieve and needs thought - boys especially get very stressed if made to do homework/prepare for exams with their parents
Girls demonstrate stress via anxiety behaviour boys tend to express it through bad behaviour Stress doesn't seem to affect girls performance in terms of exam results but instead has a significant impact on their life interests
So how can we reduce our kids' stress?
'The new report convinced me more than ever that families need soothing moments together.' says parenting expert Dr Pat Spungen.
She has some simple advice for parents who recognise that their kids are under stress. Signs parents should watch out for include problems sleeping, a change in eating patterns, tiredness or lethargy, tears, irritability or social withdrawal.
She adds, 'Supporting our children will soothe any stressed behaviour, by giving them the natural and healthy confidence to believe in themselves as we believe in them. Listening to them will help improve your relationship, meaning they feel they can confide in you, discussing worries rather than becoming stressed about them.'
Here are Pat's five top tips for more soothing family moments:
Discover relaxation techniques that work for you and your family. The most simple technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscles or breathing deeply. Some people find a shower, bath or massage highly effective
Use the HALT sign - feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired will increase children's feeling of stress
Stress in one family member is easily picked up by one another - help everyone keep calm to combat the problem - and a good night's sleep is very important
Don't be pushy - it can do more harm than good! Really listening to your children without interrupting, giving advice or warnings, can let you get to know them in a brand new way. They'll open up and confide in you, which will strengthen your relationship
Try natural essential essences like lavender and camomile to help soothe you and your family. Celebrity gardener and mum of two Kim Wilde, who was part of the report panel with Terri and Jenny, concludes, "I am proud to be part of the Bold 2-in-1 Lavender and Camomile 'Soothing Family Life' report panel. It means I can help parents like myself sooth the stresses their kids face.
There's no doubt that today's busy lifestyle makes it more important than ever to create soothing family moments. As well as the obvious things like cuddles and bedtime chats, I like to use soothing, natural scents to help calm my two.
That's why I love new Bold 2in1 Lavender & Camomile, with natural extracts of lavender and camomile. It helps soothe my family by giving them soft, snuggly bedding, towels and clothes. Small things can go a long way when it comes to helping our children feel safe, love and cared for."
For more information on the report findings, interview requests and photography, please contact: Lisa Jones / Gemma Hopkin / Natasha Gould / Zaza Biddu
Tel : 020 7413 3187 / 3040 / 3709 / 3206
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Joe Dyble Tel : 020 7317 8555/07970 299 294
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