This week I'll be sharing information from my book "When Your Child is Hurting." In celebration of Mother's Day, I'll also be giving away some little gifts this week. Keep reading to discover today's giveaway.
In this post, I'll be talking about stress. Although childhood seems like it should be stress-free, the reality is that many of our children deal with stress every day. Stress comes when one of three things happen in anyone’s life:
The pressures accumulate faster than our ability to adapt or respond.
The pressures last longer than our ability to maintain control.
Our internal makeup is simply unable to deal with the stress.
When I look at those three categories, it is startlingly obvious to me that children are at even greater risk for experiencing negative stress than adults. This is especially true since children have very little control over their environments and the pressures therein.
I've worked very diligently to try and provide a home of peace for my family. Partly so my husband and children have a haven to recover from the world, but also because I don't do well with stress.
A few years ago, I couldn’t get our mornings under control. I was a mess, and so were the kids. I thought I was doing them a favor by letting them sleep a few minutes longer, allowing them to watch cartoons while they ate a quick breakfast, and then hurrying them off to school. To say our mornings were chaotic was an understatement, and half the time someone left the house angry. On those days, peace was a false product of me holding my frustration under tight control.
The day I mindlessly pointed the remote control at two kids arguing at the breakfast table, and clicked to turn them off was the breaking point. From that point on we established a schedule with specific times for waking up, eating breakfast, getting ready, and leaving the house. We turned the television permanently off in the morning! What a difference.
After school, we developed a firm schedule on homework, but include playtime as well. From Sunday night to Friday afternoon, there is no “screen time.” Unless a homework assignment requires the computer, we turn off everything with a screen during those days. Not only does our schedule run smoother, but arguments have dramatically decreased.
My husband and I realized what we considered a privilege (watching television or playing a video game) our children considered a right. This mindset created an underlying cause of stress when our schedule was haphazard. For us, managing media time is critical for limiting stress at home.
Other tips for managing stress include eliminating hurry. For years I was always in a rush. I’d try to squeeze in one more little task before leaving, and consistently underestimated what it would take to get my children ready and in the car. I’d race in to a meeting or event at the last minute (after rushing my kids out of the car) and paste on a fake smile as if I was the most relaxed mother in the world. Little did anyone know the stress we’d all be under due to my last-minute tasks. My children sure paid the price for my hurry.
Now, I set a quitting time far ahead of when I need to leave. I ask my children and myself, “What do we absolutely need to get done before we leave?” Everything else is set aside, and we focus on the task at hand. As important as actually having a stress-free family experience, I am finally modeling how to build in margins to our schedule so we experience more peace throughout the week.
Two final practical tips include getting enough sleep and proper diet. Every child’s sleep needs are different, but basically all children should get between eight and ten hours a night. Set an early bedtime, and you’ll have a much more pleasant day. Plus, children need a well-balanced diet. This might mean creating a menu for the week and filling in places for your children to get all their requirement for dairy, protein, fruits, and vegetables.
These are just a few practices to reduce stress in our children's lives. What does your family do to reduce stress? Share your tips and this weekend I'll pick a winner at random to win a copy of my book, "When Your Child is Hurting."
Check in tomorrow when I share tips for affirming a child's physical characteristics.