As a parent, childhood can seem like a carefree time filled with very little responsibilities and a whole lot of fun. However, with the added pressures of school, social life, peer pressure, and extra curricular activities, stress can quickly takeover your child’s life. As a parent, you cannot totally shield your child from every stressful situation in life, but you can provide the proper tools to help your child cope with stress and solve everyday problems that are directly related to stress.
Knowing what to do before the stress becomes unbearable is not always easy for a parent to figure out. Through the use of the word stress, we have come up with six active steps to help you as parents discover stressful situations and equip your child with coping mechanisms to reduce stress.
Stress Signals: Take active steps to notice stress in your child’s life and let your child know that you notice a possible problem. By acknowledging the stress, your child becomes aware of the stressors themselves and they will begin to open up conversation with you. Once conversation has begun, do not tell your child how they should feel in that situation. Rather, let your child explain to you how they are feeling because of the stress.
Truly listen: Take active steps to listen to your child when they are explaining how they are feeling. Listening attentively with patience, calm, and care allows the first wall of stress to break down before the situation can escalate. This means put the iphone down, turn off the television, and talk one-on-one with your child. This will signal to your child that you truly care about their well being and your child will open up to you more and more frequently. So often we as parents want to know how to talk to our children but we never take the time to listen.
Reaching through understanding: Feeling understood is what children want most. Childhood can be quite confusing and being understood goes a long way to good mental health. Tell your child that you understand what they are going through and tell them how you would have felt in the same situation. Empathize with them and let them know how YOU truly feel. This one step is crucial to building open communication and often gets overlooked.
Empower your children: Encourage your child to think of a couple ideas to better handle the stress they are under. Brainstorm with them, but allow your child to do most of the work. This empowers your child to form tools to begin coping with these types of stresses and problems if they were to reoccur.
Slowdown the stress: If certain situations are causing more stress, limit the amount of exposure your child has to that certain situation. Not all stress can be limited, but by limiting the ones that can be more easily controlled life in general will result in less stress for your child.
Stand with them: Be patient and try to resist the urge to fix all your child’s problems. Parents cannot solve every problem in life for their child, but through the steps provided your child can begin to address and solve their own problems and benefit from greater mental health throughout childhood.
Remember this is just a roadmap and not every child is the same. If your child is having problems coping with stress it does not mean that you are a bad parent, it just means that other related issues may have already begun to escalate. Stress is the gateway that can lead to future issues such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and other problems. If your child is having problems coping with stress call us at 940-228-2171 in order to receive help for your child.
As I watch my 5 year old daughter grow up before my eyes, it amazes me how mature she acts even at such a young age. I remember like it was just yesterday when my husband and I brought her home from the hospital for the first time and now she is 5 going on 30 (in her own mind). With the amount of technology, social pressure, societal pressure, and even familial pressure prevalent in children and teen's lives nowadays, it amazes me that they even have a childhood.
With all the messages coming from technology, the media, and child/teen directed advertisement one particular message seems to be coming loud and clear... being a kid is overrated. More and more teens seem to be wanting to grow up faster and faster because that is the message they are receiving. They always want to be at the next stage in their life because once they get to that point in their minds then they will feel fulfilled. This can mirror how later in life as adults they will not be fulfilled until they have that certain job, salary, house, car... you fill in the blank. Therefore, it is crucial to find joy and self-fulfillment at an early age because that joy will carry on into adulthood.
Sometimes as parents we can be guilty of pushing our kids to grow up before their time. The next activity, or project, or function becomes more important than enjoying life (and for that matter childhood) itself. I know because I have been guilty of this myself. My daughter was in Ballet, Gymnastics, and we were thinking about putting her in soccer all at once. We did not ask her if she wanted to be so busy we just assumed that she would enjoy doing all three at the same time. We would pick our daughter up from school and take her directly to either dance or ballet. She would be exhausted by the end of the day, but there was no room for rest. We would then feed, clean, and do homework before bedtime. My husband and I did not notice at first, but this routine was wearing our daughter out. After we stepped back from the situation and noticed the toll it was taking on our daughter we made a decision to slow down and enjoy childhood a little more.
All I can say is this, we as parents need to understand and must remember what it was like being a kid. We must help our kids embrace their inner child because childhood goes by in the blink of an eye. Before we know it, our children are truly all grown up and gone and we don't want them to regret not having a childhood because they were too busy acting like adults. Let's help our kids just be kids before it is too late.
Valentine's day comes around but only once a year. To some, Valentine's day is just another day on the calendar but to others it is the epitome of LOVE and the expression of that love. All I know is that I receive more and more calls around this time of year dealing with teens with low self-esteem because they do not have a valentine. I understand it is hard to have high self-esteem when you feel like no one wants to be your Valentine... but you are not alone. I too have gone through the pain and rejection of not having a valentine.
When I was in grade school I would always love Valentine's Day because everyone would get a valentine's card and candy in their wrapped shoe box from everyone in the class. It was the best of both worlds, I never had to worry about not having a valentine because everyone in my class was my valentine and plus I got a bunch of candy as a bonus. It was not until middle school that I realized that Valentine's day turned into a popularity contest. Oh how I wished I could go back to valentine's days in grade school yet here I was in middle school with fewer and fewer valentines. However, when I got to high school Valentine's Day really turned into a popularity contest.
My high school had a candy-gram program, wherein you pay for a piece of candy for your valentine and someone goes into your valentine's classroom and gives your valentine the candy in front of their entire class. I remember that everyone would talk about how many candy-grams they had received yet I had received none. I went through the entire day feeling rejected and low. When I got home I truly felt like bursting into tears. Then I realized something, I was looking at Valentine's Day all the wrong way. I kept thinking that Valentine's Day was all about me but it was not... it is about the one you love and expressing your love for them. When I stopped making Valentine's all about me and what I was getting out of it, Valentine's became enjoyable and no longer a dreaded day on the calendar.
Now I am married with a wonderful husband and a beautiful daughter and expressing my love to them is the most important part of Valentine's Day to me. My daughter is in kindergarten and I just finished helping her wrap her first shoebox and all those wonderful memories of grade school valentine's came flooding back. So my advice to you is this, don't get caught up in Valentine's Day popularity but truly make it about expressing the love you have. If you focus on expressing your the love you have for others then, in my opinion, you get the full reward of what Valentine's Day has to offer and avoid some of those low moments on your Valentine's Day.