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9 ways to protect children from stress

Children today are vulnerable to stress and at a great risk of going into depression and getting addicted to drugs and other substance abuse. Introduce positive changes in your home environment and in your interactions with your children to tackle this menace. Learn simple techniques that can help your child become stress-free and lead a happy and productive life.

Stress, is something that should not be affecting children even remotely, is today a stark reality. Children become stressed when the environment that they live in, is not conducive to normal growth. Some parents fail to provide a safe haven for their kids, while some overdo it and make too many restrictions. Social pressures outside the home and expectations at home can add to the stress.

The greatest risk our children face is from the expectations we have from them. Many parents are 'guilty' of pushing their children – while some children adjust and deliver what is expected of them, many others struggle to cope. Adults are so accustomed to being surrounded by stress that they fail to see themselves creating the same stressful environment for their children. We do not see it, but our attitude is the cause of all the stress.

We remain super-busy, super-competitive, super-stimulated, super-materialistic…super everything! No wonder we are anxious and stressed most of our lives. Imagine, passing the same traits to the children, not genetically, but through constant reinforcement. We push them to be superhuman and in our eagerness expect them to be good at everything they do academically as well as socially.

Children are powerless, and like puppets in the hands of their parents, school, schedules and peers. They face pressures that we adults do not fathom. They are dealing with much more than we ever did. The fast paced lives, the hectic schedules, the over-precocious peer trend, the academics… It is a recipe for stress. We must realise that things that we have begun to take for granted are actually destroying their childhood…stressing them out.

Make significant changes to de-stress your kids –

Slow down

If you are always busy, rushing to complete things, you are probably stressed. Stress kills – it erodes your physical and mental health, your patience and your capacity to give your best to your children. Stress compromises your hold over your emotions and makes you jumpy and more prone to lose your cool. Stress can play havoc with energy levels, zapping you of a positive attitude.

We can fight stress if we learn to slow down a little. Get into the slow lane; take the time to enjoy the time. You cannot prioritise your kids when you have a hundred other things to do. You may be able to manage your kids on 'auto-pilot', but you'll not be able to pass on values that matter.

Slow down on the things that take up your time, instead act upon making your kids your priority. Your attitude gets rubbed off on your kids, especially when you are constantly rushing against time, become easily agitated and are stressed. Your stress levels affect your kids. Always, have this fact, in the back of your mind.

Parenting Advice :

Resist over-scheduling

Do you have a timetable chalked out for your children? Right from the time, they wake up, until the time they go to bed? Scheduling stuff is fine, you are the one in charge, but it is the overdoing that can be detrimental. You might not see the signs right away, but having children on a tight leash, all the time, can stress them out.

Children need breaks from all the schedules. They need 'me' time when they can dream or do something they like and even be bored. Do not plan every second of their lives – let them be on their own, with their inner thoughts.

Children must learn to organise their time, without you always doing it for them. They need to recognize that there is more to life than all the activities that you pack it up with. Overburdening your kids will not just deprive them of experiences, but also stress them.

Impart stress reduction techniques

Stress management techniques must be taught early in life. Small lessons on how to tackle stressful situations can prevent them from resorting to substance abuse. Drug and alcohol addiction is a reality, and your vulnerable child could turn to these substances to ward off signs of stress.

Encourage physical activities – like sports, as it can activities reduce stress hormones. Alternatively, allow them to engage in creative pursuits. Anything that they like doing can work as an antidote. Remember, you need to encourage and not push!

Parenting Advice :

Be a good listener

Make time to listen to your children. Have real conversations with them. Put aside everything and give them your 100%, at least once every 24 hours. What they say, might be trivial to you, but can be very important to them. You are their lifeline and they should be able to come to you with all their problems. They should be able to offload their tension and worries, without hesitation or embarrassment or fear.

While you are at it, also learn to laugh with them. Laughter has healing properties, as it induces the brain to release 'feel-good' chemicals.

Have rituals that you can follow every day – simple things like a chat over dinner, a snuggle at bedtime, weekend outings; make your own little 'happy time' rituals.

Pick age-appropriate activities

It is good to plan family activities, with children in mind. Avoid picking stuff that over-stimulates. In your enthusiasm don't overlook the little, yet important things in life. Children need to spend outdoors, instead of engaging in activities that overexcite them. Time spent staring at screens of various sizes is unhealthy. A movie or a video game might look harmless, but the fast-changing visuals, the bright lights and the all the action activate electrical impulses in the brain that are unhealthy.

Enthuse more outdoor activities – children need to be up close to nature, as it nourishes the soul. Being with nature has a calming effect, it can soothe the brain. I am not advocating that video games and movies be stopped altogether. They are known to help in developments too but engage children in other beneficial activities as well. A bike ride, a trip to the museum or a picnic under a shade of a tree, in the midst of nature, can be refreshing.

Lessons in media literacy are crucial

Television can have you believe many things, especially, when the viewer is a child. Television shows and commercials can impart wrong lessons, of money, looks and fame being the most important aspects of life. This, in turn, can lower self-esteem and multiple stress levels. Making dark skinned and/or obese girls feel uncomfortable in their skin and boys (want to) ape the violence to appear strong.

Talk to children about these wrong messages that could have an impact on them. Voice positive messages that help build their self-confidence.

Disturbing news can be stressful. Keep children away from sensational news reports covering violence, murders and other crimes. Such news can create anxiety and alter the way the brain develops.

Get them to sleep

Sleep deprivation is yet another reason to raise stress levels. Teens are especially sleep deprived, owing to busy schedules and screen time – on computers, television and smartphones. Lack of sleep can hinder the ability to cope with everyday stresses.

Ensure that your children are in bed at a decent time, so they catch enough sleep. Your child should wake up cheerful and refreshed. If the child is grumpy in the morning then the child perhaps need to catch some more sleep.

Parenting Advice : How to motivate children

Change the way you are

Your attitude can determine your child's levels of stress. If you constantly lament about things, you create an unhealthy atmosphere. You remain stressed and cause stress to others too. You need to know that stress is avoidable; it is not inevitable. Cut out all the bemoaning you do and see how this small change can help you relax.

Concentrate on the values you pass to your children. What are you teaching them? Are you showing them how to be fiercely competitive? Are they learning that life is all about material things? Do they have to prove that they are the 'best' in every sphere to gain your love and appreciation?

Remember, the adage that in life you win some and you lose some. It applies to all of us. Your expectations of them can result in stress in your children. Kids cannot express their angst, but know that each time you are piqued you fuel your children's stress.

Bond and connect

The parent-child bond is natural, but keeping it healthy needs work. The best way to bond is to spend time with them. Being in the house, watching television does not count. Spend quality time with them. One to one – chat, go for walks, do things together, play board games or whatever it is that involves active participation. Children feel secure and loved, by your constant and reassuring interactions. It is a simple trick that sweeps away your stress and any signs of stress, insecurities and anxiety that your kids might have.

Recommended Reading : Best foods to fight stress

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 609 articles authored by Juana

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