The loss of childhood is a serious and complex problem facing many families in America. It is clear that our kids are growing up very quickly in a generation full of electronics, never experienced by their parents.
Recent statistics show that more than 50 hours per week of a child’s life is spent interacting with some sort of screen media. In addition, kids are sleeping less; they are involved in more non-family activities; they are being treated as confidantes by their parents; and they have less time to be still or interact with family. And this doesn’t come without consequences. Increased stress, as well as a need for immediacy and awkwardness with normal communication are common results. Kids also feel more overwhelmed with emotions they don’t understand or have the ability to process.
How can we protect our children’s youth, help them manage necessary stress and minimize unnecessary stress? The number one way to manage stress is to prevent it from happening. This article offers suggestions for parents on managing their own stress, as well as the stress of their children.
- recognize the negative effects of stress
- concentrate on happiness and feeling good about oneself
- exercise and eat healthy foods
- focus on spirituality
- overlook the importance of creating open communication
- forget to establish routines
- overdo fast food meals
- overschedule kids
An overload of information or an inability to manage information leads to anxiety, depression and stress in our children. While attention deficit disorders are a real issue for today’s kids, environmental influences cannot be overlooked. Many parents are as stressed—if not more than their children. And when children don’t understand what is going on, they typically try to help their parents by taking on some of their unspoken worries and concerns.
It is not uncommon for parents to travel for work, vent personal information to their children or sign their child up for too many activities. This can push a healthy balance to an unhealthy point for a child. Just as parents need down time, so do kids.
As a parent, prepare yourself to not expect perfection. Instead, focus on being happy and raising kids who feel good about themselves. The easiest way to do this is to focus on all you love and what is going great in your life. If your child is getting all B’s with one C or D, focus on the B’s, with encouragement toward improving the C or D.
Minimize stress with exercise and healthy foods. When you make healthy choices, you become happier. Taking ten minutes for yourself each day to exercise minimizes stress and anxiety, while also helping demonstrate a healthy lifestyle for your child.
Take care of yourself spiritually. Your faith and beliefs can help you relieve stress. Praying, meditating and sharing your life with a community helps you feel less burdened. This is a more appropriate sounding board than using your children.
Talk to your kids about what is causing the stress in their life, and less about what is causing stress in your own life.
Focus on helping your child develop a routine to follow each day. Consistency and structure minimize stress in kids. Develop a bedtime plan and ensure that your child is getting plenty of sleep. Catching up on weekends is not okay.
Planning family meals rather than going out for fast food will reduce stress. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be time consuming, and it allows you to spend more time engaged with your child.
Less planned activities and having time to journal or work on hobbies gives children more control and encourages healthy coping and stress management.
You cannot escape all stress. While it is important to recognize that some stress is good, when your child becomes anxious, weepy and unable to focus, it is time to make changes in your family’s lifestyle. It is possible for parents to help their children minimize and manage daily stress.