11 Stress Management Tips for Kids

11 Stress Management Tips for KidsWhile no one can eliminate stress from young people’s lives, you can help them learn to control how they respond to it. Share these ideas, activities, and tips with kids to help them deal with stressful situations in school, at home, and among friends:

1. Get organized. Clutter can really be stressful, even if you don’t think about it much. Put dirty laundry in the hamper, papers in a folder or drawer, and toys where they belong. Ah, doesn’t that feel better?

2. Try shower power. That’s right, a hot shower can wash away stress. The steam helps you breathe easier, and the warm water soothes tense muscles. Stress goes down the drain.

3. Take charge. When things go wrong, feeling sorry for yourself equals more stress. Instead, think: What can I do to fix the situation? Start that homework, do chores, or talk to an adult who can help.

4. Visualize success. Close your eyes and imagine conquering whatever it is that is stressing you out. Big report coming due? Imagine finishing it. How great will that feel? How proud will you be? How will you reward yourself?

5. Embrace failure. Thomas Edison was one of the most important inventors in history, and along the way he had many failures. But he once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

6. Pet an animal. Research proves what pet lovers already know: petting an animal can reduce stress. If you don’t have your own pet, visit a friend who does.

7. Keep a stress journal. Write down events that lead to negative feelings. Note the time of day, what you were doing, where you were, and who was there. How did you feel? What did you do? Once you understand what stresses you, you can work on solving the problems.

8. Ask for help. You’re not a superhero. Everyone needs help sometimes, and the people you’re close with will help. Talk to a good friend or an adult you trust, and say something like, “I’m feeling frazzled. Do you think you could help me?”

9. Check your posture. If you’re stressed, chances are your posture shows it. Slumped shoulders means shallower breathing and poor circulation, so straighten up, push your shoulders back, and breathe deep.

10. Brainstorm solutions. Make a list of ways to solve your problem. Brainstorming means no ideas are too crazy or weird. Write down everything you can think of. Invite a grown-up to contribute ideas, too. Once you have a good list, choose one idea to try.

11. Celebrate accomplishments. When you finish a project or test or something else, you deserve to feel good about it. Give yourself a high five for what you’ve done, even if you’re still stressed about what you have left to do.

Rx for Stress In a JarFor more stress management ideas for kids, check out Rx for Stress In a Jar®: Tips for Less Stress in Kids’ Lives.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Don’t lose the boots! An Author and Illustrator Reflect on Collaboration and Friendship

Author Erin Frankel and Illustrator Paula HeaphyWith the recent publication of their fourth book together, Nobody!, we asked Free Spirit author-illustrator duo, Erin Frankel and Paula Heaphy, what it was like to work together. While these college roommates have shared many wonderful friendship moments over the years, they describe their collaboration as much more than a moment. It has been a friendship experience that they wouldn’t trade for the world. In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, they reflect on how they got started and look back at some of the emails that set the stage for their journey together as co-creators of Weird!, Dare!, Tough!, and Nobody!

Spotlight on Author Erin Frankel and Illustrator Paula HeaphyEvery once in a while, something happens that you know was meant to be. Somehow the stars seem to align at just the right time. It’s magic. And when you catch your breath for a moment, when you look up at the stars, you wonder how it all came to be. How did we get to this place?

In looking back on our creative journey, we realize that it was heart, soul, and hard work that got us where we are. In our case, there was one extra special ingredient that put the finishing touch on our collaboration success: friendship. We discovered that picture books take time, dedication, determination, perseverance—and belief. Belief that what you are doing can make a difference. Belief that there is one special person who is meant to tell that story with you. Belief that stories can wait patiently while our own stories unfold (a story that longs to be told will find its way). And, belief that as ideas grow, we grow.

Looking back at our first emails about the books, you can see how excitement and vulnerability were intertwined as we found our way together as partners. We gave each other the space to gracefully decline other’s first attempts at story or art—a space that was quickly filled with encouragement and gratitude. We didn’t know then that these stories would hold us together at moments when things seemed to be falling apart. We didn’t know if we could pull it off. We didn’t know if there would be enough hours in the day. We didn’t know if anyone would like what we had created. But we did know that we wanted to take a chance on each other and create something that could make a difference.

We knew that publishers weren’t likely to take us on as a team—most prefer to match writers with illustrators. But we stuck together, and we worked to stand out by creating characters who stand out. We created something authentic because we were authentic in our mission to help children, and we were fortunate to find a publisher with the same authenticity. Maybe it isn’t just magic. Our hearts were in the right place. And when your heart is in the right place, anything is possible!

Here is an early email exchange that shows us tiptoeing our way into collaboration:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
From: Erin
To: Paula
Paula, you will not hurt my feelings if you find that the manuscript doesn’t speak to you. I know as an artist that that is extremely important. I also know that you are doing a hundred things right now so you can be upfront with me if the timing isn’t right.

Give it a think.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009
From: Paula
To: Erin
I love it, Erin! I am going to start researching right away . . . look for style inspiration. It’s very exciting, I’ve always wanted to work on a project like this. I think it’s so great that you came up with this with your girls. It’s amazing . . . and sends such a great message.


Saturday, February 14, 2009
From: Paula
To: Erin
I am attaching a simple line drawing of the little girl that spoke to me the most. Of all the sketches she just felt right to me . . . just imagine her very colorful. Please let me know what you think . . . don’t feel bad about saying she is totally off base or anything. You can be super honest, I am used to constructive criticism! Don’t mind the boots, I just threw them on for fun. She can wear anything . . .


Saturday, February 14, 2009
From: Erin
To: Paula
You are soooooooo talented! Luisa is wonderful. Today, February 14th, is her birthday. Luisa is born. Don’t lose the boots—I think they give her a quirky feel and can picture them with polka dots!

We think that last email sums up collaboration for us. Don’t lose the boots! Take risks, be original, be colorful, be kind, and most of all, stick together and never give up!


Author Erin FrankelErin Frankel has a master’s degree in English education and is passionate about parenting, teaching, and writing. She taught ESL in Madrid, Spain, before moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her family. Erin knows firsthand what it feels like to be bullied, and she hopes her stories will help children stay true to who they are and help put an end to bullying. She and Paula believe in the power of kindness and are grateful to be able to spread that message through their work. In her free time, you’ll find Erin hiking in the woods with her family and doggie, Bella, or getting some words down on paper wherever and whenever she can.

Illustrator Paula HeaphyPaula Heaphy is a print and pattern designer in the fashion industry. She’s an explorer of all artistic mediums from glassblowing to shoemaking, but her biggest love is drawing. She jumped at the chance to illustrate Erin’s stories, having been bullied herself as a child. As the characters came to life on paper, Paula felt her path in life suddenly shift into focus. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she hopes to use her creativity to light up the hearts of children for years to come.

Free Spirit books by Erin and Paula:

Weird! A Story About Dealing with Bullying in SchoolsDare! A Story About Standing Up to Bullying in SchoolsTough! A Story About How to Stop Bullying in SchoolsNobody! A Story About Overcoming Bullying in School

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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It’s Moving Day! Free Spirit Has a New Home

It’s Moving Day! Free Spirit Has a New HomeFree Spirit had a wonderful 17 years at our Minneapolis location, but we’re beginning a new chapter. We are excited to announce that we have moved! We’ve packed our bags, books, and dogs and are now just west of Minneapolis. Effective October 5, our new address is 6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Golden Valley, MN 55427. Free Spirit’s phone number and fax number are the same.

Please note: Our warehouse will not be shipping products October 5–9 as we settle into our new facility. Shipping will resume Monday, October 12. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll visit. We look forward to making many new memories at our new home.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Even Teachers Make Mistakes: How to Bounce Back from Blunders

By Patrick Kelley, author of Teaching Smarter

Even Teachers Make Mistakes: How to Bounce Back from BlundersHad a bad day? Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s not. Either way, the next day in the classroom matters!

Maybe you lost your cool and argued with a student. Maybe you showed up late or were obviously underprepared for a lesson. Without glorifying our mistakes, it is important to know that, if handled properly, those mistakes can endear us to our students. It’s what we do next that matters. Here is a simple three-step plan for bouncing back from a bad day:

1. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room. You can say, “Hey, I want to apologize to all of you for (insert your mistake). I have no excuses or justifications. I did wrong, and I am sorry.” Who isn’t impressed by a sincere apology—one that comes without excuses? This is a lesson politicians may still need to learn, but we teachers are smarter than that.

2. Right the wrong if possible. If you did any damage, then do what you can to fix it. Otherwise, your apology was a lie. “Hey, because my lesson ran long yesterday, we never got to play Jeopardy like we were supposed to. So today, we’re going to play an extra 15 minutes.”

3. Give extra thought and effort to the next day’s lesson plan. The best way to put a bad day behind you is to follow it with a good one. Many of us have that one lesson plan up our sleeve that rocks. Now’s the time to use it! Students tend to recall only what you have done lately. They’re generally good about not letting the pain of yesterday get in the way of fun today.

Do you have that day-saving lesson plan? Think back: What lesson would your students rank as the number one of all time? It’s a good idea to have at least one lesson like that—stick it in a file marked “Fixing a Bad Day” or “Disaster Kit.” I find that I need to keep mine fully stocked at all times.

We all make mistakes. But if you apologize sincerely, right any wrongs, and follow your bad day with a great one, you show your students that even teachers are still learning. Your mistake may end up bringing you closer to your class.

How do you and your students bounce back from blunders in the classroom?

Author Patrick Kelley, M.A.Patrick Kelley, M.A., has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from California State University San Bernardino and a bachelor’s degree in history from Castleton State College in Vermont. He has been a classroom teacher for more than twenty-five years. He has experience as a mentor teacher and an AP coordinator as well as ten years of experience with the AVID program. He is certified in Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) and currently works with the International Baccalaureate program. Patrick provides workshops and presentations to districts, schools, and teams. Visit him at www.patrickkelleybooks.com.

Teaching SmarterPatrick is the author of Teaching Smarter: An Unconventional Guide to Boosting Student Success.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Helping Kids Feel Comfortable with Therapy

By James J. Crist, Ph.D., author of What to Do When You’re Cranky & Blue

Helping Kids Feel Comfortable with TherapyI have been working as a therapist for 28 years and have found that many of my patients—both kids and adults—are perfectly comfortable seeing a therapist while others are embarrassed and don’t want anyone to know. Some refuse to come in, fearing the worst if forced to talk with a counselor. What if I find out I have a more serious problem? What if talking about it makes it worse? How do I know I can trust the counselor? Some parents may be hesitant to seek mental healthcare for their children out of fear that they will somehow be blamed for a child’s problems. This is unfortunate, since we know that seeking help early on can help avoid more serious problems later.

While the stigma of getting psychological help has come a long way in the last 30 years, we can do more. Here are some ways parents can help kids feel more comfortable about seeing a therapist.

Talk Openly About Mental Health
More and more, I find that kids and teens talk to each other about going to therapy. They even refer their friends to me, which is a positive sign that they think I have been helpful to them and could help their friends as well. Some kids, however, are less comfortable with it. One girl I worked with was mortified that I was asking her teacher for information about her performance in class. She didn’t want anyone to know there was “something wrong with her.” Fortunately, this teacher was able to share that she had similar problems (ADHD in this case), which was a relief to this girl. My patient felt much better about herself after that. When we talk about mental health issues as normal challenges that many of us face, we reduce the stigma of getting help.

Keep Learning
Parents, too, have their reservations about seeking treatment. It’s hard to open up to a stranger and admit that your way of parenting your child isn’t working. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals, and there are many challenges in raising today’s kids. Sometimes, learning different parenting strategies helps a great deal with a child’s behavior. Other times, parents are doing all the right things, but the child’s mental health issues prevent him from benefiting. It helps to know that some kids may require specialized parenting techniques to help them overcome more serious problems.

Join In
Kids are more likely to feel comfortable in therapy when other family members participate. In my experience, parents can sometimes be reluctant to participate in therapy. Many don’t believe in seeking professional help for psychological problems. Others are afraid that they will be blamed, at least in part, for their kids’ problems. Kids who sense a parent’s hesitation about therapy may feel less comfortable participating themselves.

Even coming in for short visits can help. For example, I worked with a teenage girl whose father would wait in the car. One day, I asked my patient if it would be okay to walk out with her and introduce myself to her father. I went out, and we had a short conversation. He eventually felt more comfortable coming in, which helped him as well as his daughter.

By making therapy a family affair, it’s a lot less threatening to kids. Family therapy is a part of almost all my work with kids for this reason. Therapy is more likely to be successful when parents are actively involved.

Explain What Therapy Is
If you are bringing your child to a therapist for the first time, ask the therapist how to explain therapy to your child or teenager. Often, kids will insist that they will not talk to a stranger. That is fine—no need to argue. Most kids, once they meet the therapist, will be willing to talk if the therapist is respectful of the child’s hesitance.

One way to explain seeing a therapist is to tell kids that you are taking them to a doctor who helps solve problems with their behavior and feelings. Explain that it’s not just for the child—parents also have to learn better ways of handling things.

Share Self-Help Books
Self-help books for kids and teens can be helpful in reducing the stigma of seeking help. Since kids don’t always share their problems with others, they may think that they are the only ones who struggle with problems such as anxiety, depression, anger, or autism. Reading about the experiences of other kids and what they do to help themselves helps kids feel less alone. It can also give them hope that things can get better.

Author Jamie CristDr. James J. Crist is a psychologist specializing in children with ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders. He is the clinical director and a staff psychologist at the Child and Family Counseling Center in Woodbridge, Virginia, where he provides psychological testing and individual, couples, and family psychotherapy for children, adolescents, and adults. Visit his website at jamesjcrist.com.

Free Spirit books by James include:

The Survival Guide for Making and Being FriendsWhat to Do When You’re Cranky & BlueWhat to Do When You're Scared & WorriedMad

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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