Supporting children and young people with stress at school

13 April 2022

Stress is a normal response to changes and challenges, and it is an inevitable aspect of life. For children and young people, they can feel stressed when there is something that they need to prepare for or adapt to. Building up children and young people’s resilience is key to helping them deal with stress and other overwhelming emotions.

This year’s Stress Awareness Month focuses on community; highlighting how a lack of support can lead to loneliness and isolation among individuals. Social isolation in particular can have a detrimental effect on both children’s mental health. This is why it is crucial that children develop the basic social skills needed at an early age to interact with other pupils and staff so that they can create positive and meaningful relationships. These are skills that children can continue to use and develop later in life to ensure that they remain socially active and avoid any feelings of isolation or loneliness.

A great way to help children and young people to develop their social skills is by introducing nurture provisions at school. In nurture groups for example, there is a special emphasis on language and communication, and they are designed to help children develop vital social skills, confidence and self-respect. Nurture groups cater for early years, primary or secondary school pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties which make it harder for them to learn in a mainstream classroom. 

Nurture groups enable children to develop the ability to regulate or manage their feelings and, in particular, the stresses that are often related to or emanate from angry feelings. The support activities offered through nurture provision allow children to relax, express their feelings and communicate with others, all of which help them to cope with stress. The 60 Mindful Minutes resource by Dr Tina Rae provides a variety of fun and engaging activities that can be used in nurture groups. This practical resource helps children to soothe and calm themselves by learning mindfulness, which can boost children’s mental health and happiness.

Nurture provisions also allow practitioners to get a more accurate understanding of what levels of stress children experience so that they know what adaptive coping strategies can be implemented. The Boxall Profile® Online helps practitioners to recognise children’s stress triggers and responses, so that they can identify the right level of support that each child needs in the nurture group or classroom. Using the Boxall Profile® is a great way to identify and address hidden issues such as stress, so that practitioners can spot issues sooner and reduce their impact on children and young people’s learning. 

By introducing nurture provisions in your school, and analysing pupil’s behaviour using the Boxall Profile®, you can support children and young people with managing their stress levels by allowing them to develop the social emotional skills, resilience and positive behaviours they need to do well in school and in life.