It’s safe to say that it doesn’t take much to be an overwhelmed parent these days with everything that has been going on. When we are trying to keep a lid on the stress ourselves, sometimes we can neglect exactly how our children are coping. We have to remember that when our children are stressed, they will cope with it differently from adults, so what does it really take when it comes to ensuring that our children process stress healthily?
Remember the Examples You Set
When it comes to external stresses in life, we have to think about what it really takes to calm ourselves down. When we are calm we are going to make things less stressful for our children. It sounds very simple, but sometimes there are so many external components going on in our lives that we start to neglect how these things will affect our children in the long run. And this means that, whether you are going through a surgical error lawsuit or you are experiencing grief in some way, we cannot forget that our children are going to process things in their own ways. So, when we learn to calm ourselves down, we are in effect, passing on certain tools and tricks to our children. We have to be so aware that anything will have an impact on our children. This is why we have to learn to manage our own stress because it is so contagious.
Teaching Your Children to Listen to Their Bodies
Sometimes we don’t understand the physiology of stress. Sometimes we need to learn exactly how we can navigate the ebbs and flows of being stressed. And it is so crucial to teach our children to listen to their bodies and what their bodies are saying. When it comes to stress on a physiological level, our children can feel knots in their stomachs and headaches; when we are feeling these things, it’s not just about recognizing that they are there, but it’s about making sure we have the tools to manage our own stress.
How Do We Manage Stress?
Stress is such a subjective component because everybody experiences stress in their own ways. For your children to process stress effectively, it can be to do with alleviating a lot of fears. Sometimes our children feel stressed because they are fearful of making mistakes. We’re not supposed to know how to do everything right. And when we are teaching our children the importance of coping with stress in certain ways, understanding that failure is okay can be very freeing. We need to look at the bigger picture, and sometimes we very rarely do this. And this goes back to what our stress levels do for our children. We can stress our children out by not helping them understand that failure is a big part of the process.
Ensuring that our children have certain tools and skills to deal with problems will make a massive difference. And we can break these down into two different areas:
- The physical signs of stress. When we are dealing with these components, we have to remember that it’s a hangover from our fight or flight response, but there are things that we can do to calm our bodies down. A very good example in the modern world is the physiological sigh, where you do a double inhale and exhale for longer than you breathe in, which will slow your heart rate down.
- Fear of the unknown. The other component to do with stress is not being able to control what is there. Again, you can learn about how to relinquish your fears of the unknown by learning the importance of making mistakes, but also remembering that the unknown is not something to be fearful of.
Not Oversechulding Your Life
One of the biggest stressors for children is too many activities. It’s important that our children have the downtime to relax and rejuvenate. But this is something that may not be so common in the modern world. We have to be very aware that our children need to have those moments for play. Take the opportunity to look at your children’s schedules over a typical week, and make sure that you are structuring in downtime. Sometimes, there will be opportunities during the weekend or the evenings during the week where children can relax. It’s important to remember that in order for children to be able to learn and process information correctly, we have to have those moments of quiet. They say that after you learn a skill, you need to sit in silence because your brain will subconsciously play the skill backward and then forwards, therefore solidifying it in the brain. Think about the number of skills that your children have to learn on a daily basis, and if you are over-scheduling them, you have to realize that there is going to be some point where they will feel overworked.
Look at Your Family Time
Is everybody constantly eating and then running? When we are doing too much of this, it’s a big indicator that there is too much going on in our lives. Instead, look at those moments where there could be opportunities for downtime, and incorporate play. Play is something that shouldn’t feel pressurizing. Start to build activities into your life that don’t have end goals or competitions. This is even more important for older children. Because they will feel pressure in terms of school and extracurricular activities. We can incorporate a number of very simple things, whether it’s throwing a baseball around, riding bikes, or just going for walks, they will make a massive difference.
Managing stress is so important, and it’s not just about making sure that we can handle the stress but realizing that our children will process things in different ways. Once we get a handle on how our children process stress, we are then able to help them manage it better, which will reap dividends, not just now, but for the rest of their lives.