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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

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.

In His Love,





Shelia Baker said...

As a working, single mother of three children, mornings can be overwhelming to say the least. But like you, we do not turn any TV on in the mornings. I've adjusted my schedule to where i get up earlier than they do and am almost completely dressed before they get up. It's a lot less stressful that way for me and in the evenings I allow them playtime to unwind before finishing any homework not completed in afterschool. But i've learned TV can be a huge procrastinator if it is turned on and nothing will get done. So, TV stays off until everyone is completed with homework and chores. Each night, i make sure all bookbags, shoes and jackets are by the door ready to go. I've had too many late mornings due to the "lost shoe" syndrome and unsigned agendas. Each of my kids know that if something has to be signed, they are responsible for getting to me. If it doesn't get signed, that's their fault and they are responsible for the consequences. IT's not easy most mornings but we're slowly making improvement to walk out the door more peacefully and on time. We try to say a prayer on the way to school each morning and that seems to put us all on track and just relax our moods and emotions that may be boiling. Thanks for your post and i would love to win a copy of your book.

Edwina said...


Although my children are grown I have 3 grandchildren. Needless to say, I will be forwarding the link to your website so the moms can read your articles. Excellent insight on children!!

Edwina Cowgill

Cantrell 4 said...

Wow! This is so right up my alley right now. I work from home and have a 5 year old and soon to be 1 year old daughter. My son, the 5 year old just started Kindergarten this year and our mornings are very hectic. I do not really have any good tips :( We try to be in bed on week nights by 8:30. We have to leave the house by 7 for me to get him to school and to get back home to start work on time. He is not a morning person, It is a struggle and a fight to get him up. Once he is up, which is usually 10-15 minutes before we have to get out the door he likes to lolly gag. We do not turn the TV on in the morning either.
It completely ruins my day being rushed and then having to fight with him to get up and dressed. It's horrible. My husband is usually out the door or getting ready to head out the door while this is going on. It is very stressful so any helpful tips I would GREATLY APPRECIATE...
I do have everything ready for the next day the night before because I know how the mornings go and do not need to add anything else to it.
Well, that's my sob story for morning routines. Again any tips are appreciated and I would love to win a copy of your book as well!
Monica ^i^

Ann said...

With Cassandra [granddaughter] we use to walk and talk--With Victor [son] it was our special time alone in the pool, and with Cathy [daughter]she loved coming in our room and sitting on the edge of the bed to talk to me--So each were different and the key was to find out what was best for them...Hugs Glynnis:)

Maureen said...

Like you - we have a no TV rule in the mornings. I think this makes a world of difference. Also, my youngest takes a while to wake up so I get her up 15 minutes before her sister and she lays down on the couch during that time before having to get ready for school. After school we have a brief playtime (no screens), then we jump right into homework. If everyone is done with school work and we have no after school activities, I will sometimes let them watch TV or play games. One other thing I do to reduce stress for the kids is to let them pick only one extra-curricular activity that they enjoy each year (with 3 kids it would be too much rushing around if they all had more than one!).

Kim said...

Wow. Such great advice. I struggle with managing my time. I feel like I'm always rushing to get this done, get out the door, fix this . . .
I need to get better at scheduling and love the tips you gave.