Teaching Children/Youth Coping Skills for Stress Management: Pre-School Stress Relief Project (PSSRP)The Pre-School Stress Relief Project (PSSRP) was developed by Jennie C. Trotter and Gloria S. Elder for early prevention work with pre-schoolers. This substance abuse prevention and mental health program was developed to reduce stress and increase coping skills in children/youth.The PSSRP provides training, consultation and educational resources in the area of stress management for preschoolers, parents and teachers.This model is based on the premise that equipping children early with positive coping skills for stress reduction will increase their awareness and choices for healthy lifestyles over negative ones such as substance abuse. Substance abuse prevention requires more than providing basic information it also includes teaching developmental level skills necessary for forming positive self images, making good decisions, and developing coping strategies. By guiding children to improve their decision-making and problem solving skills, we can help them deal more efectively with the stressors they encounter.
Pre-Schoolers-Grade 2The PSSRP curriculum is divided into six lessons and utilizes videos, hand-on activities, and puppets; including Copee Bear, the mascot for this model program. Copee Bear teaches the childen how to cope with feelings, body changes, and stress in their lives. Copee is featured in practically all of the supplemental materials, such as posters, videos, and songs, which makes him a favorite of the children.Â
Three of the important lessons that will sound familiar to early childhood educators include: Lesson One- I Am A Good Person;Lesson Two- Feelings and You; and Lesson Four-Good Ways to Get Anger Out.
Parents make sure children eat a nutritious meal, get plenty of exercise, and have a good night's sleep. Proper nutrition, exercise and adequate rest are some of the best ways to manage stress or change in their lives.
Teacher TrainingA two-day PSSRP teacher training is offered around the country. It addresses the development stages of childhood, pointing out that the age of the child is a factor in determining the child's ability to cope with stress. Other topics covered include understanding learning styles, the art of puppetry, practical application of the curriculum, and early referral for high-risk children. In addition to teacher training, there are teacher educational videos that give an overview of the program and demonstrates the six lessons of the curriculum.
ParentingParent training is also offered covering similar content and revelvant parent issues. One parent described how her shy child was brought out and made to feel more confident when dealing with stressful situations. Another parent found the techniques were helpful at home. After attending the workshop, she realized that, at certain times, her son was reacting to stress while she felt he was being obstinate. She then began to cope with his behavior in a more positive way. The teachers and parents training programs helps them learn how to handle their own stress and become familiar with stress management techniques.
Teachers and parents can help children learn to cope with stressful situations as follows:
Program EvaluationThe program was evaluated by an outside, Research Evaluator (Louis Anderson, Ph.D).
The Evaluation ComponentOver a five year period the PSSRP trained over 300 teachers and teacher aids, approximately 600 parents and over 4,000 preschoolers in positive coping skills for stress reduction in Georgia Headstart and Metropolitan subsidized daycare programs.
Evaluation ResultsÂ Â Â
1. A significant reduction in symptomatic behaviors exhibited by preschoolers such as:
3. A significant difference was found in the preschooler's recognition of how stress affects the body.
An informal teacher's evaluation showed:
100% felt the curriculum had helped the teacher in managing stress in the classrooms.
95% felt that the PSSRP has helped the teacher in managing their own stress at school and at home.Â Â Â Â Â Â
An informal parent's evaluation showed:
100% of the parents felt that the program had increased their coping skills for stress reduction in their personal lives.