Helping Your Child Deal with Stress—Even When You’re Stressed
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Remember to parent with compassion, support, and love
The life of a Solo Mom includes a full calendar and endless commitments. Simple day-to-day chores, to-do lists, working late, grocery shopping, and getting the kids to and from school can feel stressful. Then there are the grown-up issues that take stress a new level. Divorce, moving to a new home, illness, and financial issues are in the top ten causes of stress, according to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report.
Hopefully, we know what we should do to manage our own stress, like listen to music, exercise, meditate, breathe, and seek professional help when necessary. But how do we help our kids with their own stress and anxiety? They are busy with school, activities, peer pressure, and social media. They also pick up on our stress like sponges and can feel responsible or even blame themselves for any discord.
There are a few simple things you can do to help your kids manage their stress.
- Love them. There is nothing more magical than the power of love. Tell them you love them every night before they go to sleep. Even when they’re 18.
- Find compassion. Instead of offering “solutions” for their stress, empathize. For example, if they have had an argument with their best friend, it’s better to offer empathy, such as “That must really hurt your feelings,” instead of “Oh, they weren’t nice to you, anyway.” Empathy and compassion will not only make them feel validated, but watch it work miracles as they open up and talk to you about it even more.
- Seek support. Assess if your child is in need of a therapist. See our article, “Does Your Child Need a Therapist.” If you feel your kids are in need of professional help, seek out a reputable counselor or therapist. Word of mouth or suggestions from their school are a good place to start. You can also find a therapist through your health-care provider or your company’s employee assistance program (EAP). Seeing a therapist together will help bring issues and unresolved conflict to the surface. Working these out with a professional is invaluable—for now and in the future.
- Teach them your stress-busting skills. The techniques you use to calm yourself can also help them. Take yoga or martial arts class together. Go for a bike ride. Take the dog for a walk. Read or watch TV together, or just ditch everything on a weekend and take a ride to the mountains or the beach. Doing these activities together will bring you closer and leave plenty of room for wonderful conversation and meaningful memories. Your kids will appreciate your effort toward stress reduction, and everyone can start to feel better.
Debi Conocenti has been keeping people fit and healthy for more than 20 years. A developer of corporate health, fitness, and wellness programs, she stays active with her two sons and English sheepdogs.
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