Do you notice those worried looks instead of smiles on your kids faces? Do they seem rushed and disorganized? Do they forget what’s on the schedule and get to places late or not at all? Does their stress make you feel harried?
Tips for Stress Proofing Your Kids
1. Identify that there is a problem. Name it “Stress” and tell your kids you want to help them feel better and more in control of their lives.
2. Now that you have a word to refer to you can begin to use your Parental Intelligence. This means finding out the sources of their stress and working together to relieve the pressures they are under and the tension it gives you.
3. Tell them your all ears without judgment (very important!). Ask them at a quiet moment what pressures they are under. You may already know many of them, but let them tell you so they know you are listening and care.
4. Take each stressor one at a time. Using Parental Intelligence means evaluating if your child is trying to accomplish something they are not developmentally up to. Maybe they don’t have the social skills they need to meet new friends and you can guide them on how to start conversations. Maybe they are in the wrong reading group and are unable to do the assignments if they’re placed too high or bored if they’re placed too low. Maybe they’d like you to meet with their teacher to discuss their reading skill level.
5. Maybe what’s stressing them isn’t something tangible, but their point of view. Using Parental Intelligence means finding out what is on your child’s mind – their thoughts, beliefs, imaginings, ideas, intentions and feelings. Slowly you will discover how they feel about themselves and how may need you to be a sounding board for these feelings not an immediate advice giver. Just listening may be all that’s needed to relieve some stress.
6. Consider with them how they feel about their teachers, friends, and siblings. Again, don’t rush to give advice. In fact, just ask for more details. This shows them you really care about their feelings even if you can’t do something immediate to change them.
7. Everyone feels less stressed when they feel less alone. Sharing inner and outer pressures with a loving parent makes the child and teen feel they have an ally who accepts them however they are unconditionally. Unconditional love is not based on merits or accomplishments. Feeling accepted relieves stress tremendously
You may find that as you engage your child, your tension is lifted because you feel closer to your son or daughter and a significant part of their lives. Knowing they may see things differently than you opens the door to really getting to know them. This is the crux of using Parental Intelligence. It’s so rewarding!
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. Visit her website to read ,more about her parenting advice and mental helath: http://lauriehollmanphd.com