Learn how to manage stress through 4-H

Involvement in 4-H can be a great stress reliever!

Learning to deal with stress in a productive manner is important for youth and adults alike. Stress management is one of the emotional intelligence skills, also known as EQ. Clinical psychologist and author Daniel Goleman states that EQ might matter more than IQ when it comes to life successes.

According to Michigan State University Extension, stress is inevitable in life, but learning to manage it effectively is an important skill to have. Sometimes youth can become stressed by facing the unknown; joining a new club or showing an animal for the first time can be stressful. Adults working with youth can help members learn several methods of coping with their stress. One effective way to increase tolerance of stress is through physical activity. For example, have members participate in a group activity that involves exercise. Another tactic is to ask members to share phrases that they could say silently to themselves to relax during a stressful event. Lastly help youth identify situations that may cause them stress; then have them consider what techniques they could use to relax. Learning to tolerate stress is a valuable skill that youth will utilize for a lifetime.

The ability to control our response to situations is impulse control. Impulse control is another stress management skill of emotional intelligence. Younger members have a tendency to act before they think and older youth may lash out when someone does something they do not like. In addition, helping members learn to respond appropriately to stressful situations is an important role of leaders. A fun way to address the topic is to play the, “What would you do if…?” game. Ask youth how would they feel or respond and discuss appropriate ways to handle various situations.

Another valuable skill to teach youth is the ability to apologize. A clever way to practice this skill is to set a policy in the group that members are allowed a “do-over”. When someone loses her/his temper that person can say “That came across really mean. I am sorry. What I wanted to say is…”

Through its various delivery models, 4-H is unique program that supports youth and teaches them how to develop stress management skills throughout their participation.

A series of Emotional Intelligence Activities is available, for parents or other adults working with youth through The University of Illinois 4-H with designated age groups. For more information about resources available through Michigan 4-H Youth Development contact your local MSU Extension office.

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