Being a kid today is tough. Pressures at school can create a climate of “professional childhood,” one that robs our kids of the traditional idyllic kind of childhood we got to experience. And parents, brace yourselves, because new research shows that we’re playing a bigger role here than we’d like to admit.
According to the February/March issue of Working Mother magazine, “Most parents say their own stress levels aren’t healthy.” Still, a whopping 69 percent of those surveyed believed their stress wasn’t affecting their kids. Think again, folks, because the magazine claims that an astonishing “91 percent of kids say they know when their parents are stressed because they yell, argue or complain more.” What’s more, as kids get older, the magazine suggests that between a third and half of them say Mom and Dad’s stress makes them feel worried and sad.
It’s hard to read those numbers, but do we parents really need the statistics in order to admit that what they’re saying is true? The more we work, the more worked up Junior gets. It’s a vicious cycle the magazine believes we can put the kibosh on–and stat. To prove it, here are eight stress busters for you and your kiddos to try out:
1. Focus on “pressure points.” If your family runs amuck in the morning, give yourself more time to handle it all by getting up just 15 minutes earlier. If you’re too exhausted to cook up a good meal when you get home, don’t do take out! Get dinner going first thing in the morning with the crockpot.
2. “Show, don’t tell.” Wonder where Junior learned about anxiety? Take a good look in the mirror. If he sees you coping well, he stands a better chance of doing the same.
3. Model a good argument. You’re bound to argue with your spouse and even your kids. Model the mature, fair way of handling disagreements so your kids won’t fear them in the future.
4. Don’t freak out! Just listen. The older kids get, the more they avoid having real conversations with their parents. Why? Because we get so concerned! Relax a bit, save your judgment and give your kids a chance to vent.
5. Time Out. Sometimes we just need a change of scenery to snap out of a funk. Consider a “mini vacation,” taking your kids outside or on a drive to get their minds off things for a while.
6. Help them find a fresh perspective. Junior’s bound to meet with failure. Share your own experiences of facing disappointment, focusing on new opportunities that came about as a result.
7. One bite at a time. My dad always helped me manage large projects by breaking them down into smaller tasks.
8. “Hone Health Habits” for your kids and for yourself! Kids who sleep and eat well and remain active learn better and are more likely to shed daily stress. Go figure.
Do you think you model stress for your kids? Do you cope well with pressure? If so, tell us how you’re doing it!