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Reading to Reduce Stress in Kids

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A key benefit of reading is its ability to reduce stress. Find out what to read, ways to read it, and how to incorporate stress-relieving reading into your kid’s routine.

Reading to Reduce Stress in Kids

How Reading Reduces Stress

Does reading reduce stress? Yes! Reading is a proven stress reliever for both adults and kids.

Here’s why:

Provides a Mental Escape

Reading transports you to another realm.

Whether your child enjoys fiction or nonfiction, he can leave the cares of the present behind.

By captivating your child’s attention, he practices a form of mindfulness where he singularly focuses on the moment.

Reading can be so engrossing that some children don’t process the sights and sounds around them; they are that absorbed.

Lowers Heart Rate and Relaxes Muscles

The act of reading stimulates the brain while relaxing the body.

This calming activity lowers the heart rate and relaxes muscles.

When kids are agitated, they hold tension in their bodies. This can cause headaches, stomach aches, or muscle aches.

Reading helps your child release the tension he is unconsciously holding.

Reading to Reduce Stress in Kids

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Stimulates the Imagination

Not only does reading captivate attention in the moment, but it stimulates the imagination.

Even afterward, reading stimulates a fun and positive mental diversion.

Your child can imagine himself discovering dinosaurs in the jungle, sitting at the table of King Arthur, or riding on a galloping unicorn.

Promotes Empathy and Perspective

By reading about characters from different backgrounds, your child can learn to relate better to others; this promotes empathy.

The situations, struggles, and consequences (both positive and negative) of characters and books can give your child a lesson in perspective.

She may see her own situation differently after reading a book. She may also creatively problem-solve difficulties in her life.

Helps You Fall Asleep

Reading can help your child fall asleep; adequate sleep lowers stress.

Screens can stimulate the brain and keep a child wakeful.

By reading relaxing books and stories, a child can focus his attention away from the struggle to fall asleep and on to the positive mental images of the book.

Reading to Reduce Stress in Kids

What to Read to Reduce Stress

Not all books are stress relievers. If you are reading to reduce stress, you need to choose carefully.

Do not give your child school books to relieve stress. Calming books are typically pleasure reading.

The genre of a book can make a difference. Books with a lot of action or scary elements may make children more tense.

What relaxes one child may stimulate another, so finding what type of books work best for your child is essential.

Reading to Reduce Stress in Kids

Way to Read to Reduce Stress

There is more than one way to read. If your goal is stress relief, find a suitable mode of reading for your child.

Read Aloud to Another

Reading aloud has definite benefits when it comes to stress relief.

It is an immersive experience, as reading aloud stimulates the eyes and ears. This is more true if the person reading uses expression while reading.

It also promotes social connection when one person reads aloud to the other; this can be a stress reliever on its own.

Finally, stories or poems with a rhythmic cadence (think of “The Night Before Christmas”) can be soothing to the ear and relax the mind.

Read Aloud to Self

Emerging readers will often read aloud to themselves as they sound out words.

Not only does this aid in reading comprehension, it adds an aural element to reading.

Read the Pictures

Children with developing reading skills can read independently by “reading the pictures.”

Thumbing through a picture book or graphic novel still gives all the relaxation benefits of reading.

Reading to Reduce Stress in Kids

Interactive Books

Interactive books (with flaps, popups, or textures) or books incorporating drawing or coloring provide an extra layer of multisensory engagement.

They are excellent at drawing a child’s full attention to the act of reading.

Ear Reading

Ear reading is especially helpful for kids with dyslexia or aural learners.

By both seeing and hearing the text, the child gets all the cognitive benefits of reading while still comprehending the story.

If you want ear reading to be an independent activity, you can use audiobooks or text-to-speech technology.

Digital Reading Apps

Digital reading apps have engaging stories, pictures, and possible interactive elements.

They may strongly appeal to tech-savvy children.

One added benefit? They can provide feedback on your child’s reading progress.

A digital app does use a screen, so it may not be the best before-bed option.

Read to Self Silently

If your child is an advanced reader, he may prefer to read silently in his mind.

This is an engaging (and fast) way to read a book.

Even if your child prefers this mode of reading, he will still benefit from other modes like ear reading and read-alouds.

Reading to Reduce Stress in Kids

How to Incorporate Reading to Reduce Stress into Your Child’s Routine

Some children love to read; others do not.

For children who dislike reading, make reading the most appealing option.

For instance, give the bedtime option. “We can turn off the lights right now, or you can keep your lights on for thirty extra minutes and read.”

You can institute a short quiet time during the day when your child cannot use a screen (unless it is a reading-assistance app).

Your child may read during this time but does not have to.

During this quiet time, your child could choose to play instead. Put on an audiobook while he plays.

Reading can provide a gentle start to the day, a midday break, or a calming part of the going-to-bed routine.

Reading to Reduce Stress in Kids

How Reading Can Reduce Stress in Kids

In this modern age of constant activity and stimulation, reading provides a refreshing break.

By providing a mental escape, calming the body, and promoting perspective, reading can be an important relaxation tool for your child.

With so many modes of reading, any child can find a way to relax and unwind by reading.

And so can you!

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