Most adults associate childhood with carefree-living and having no worries. As parents, we have lived through the challenges of childhood, and we know the outcome of most daily situations, but as a child, everything is new. They do not know the outcome. From going to a doctor’s office, to overhearing a dispute between their parents, these issues seem minor to an adult, but can be intense in the eyes of a child. As hard as we try we cannot keep them from these feelings. They are going to encounter stress. Teaching them to use positive stress correctly and lowering the side effects of negative stress is a life skill that will give your child an advantage for the rest of their life.
Teaching our children how to cope with stress properly is a life skill sometimes overlooked by parents. We are so focused on giving them as many experiences as we can, we forget to slow down to listen to their feelings. In fact, as parents, we have become so accustomed to rushing from place to place ourselves, we need to practice stress coping techniques as well. Our children are little sponges, and our example is the best way to teach them. When parents are not coping properly with daily negative stressors, our children are learning what not to do.
The term “stress” is thrown around so much, many people don’t understand what stress is and what it is not. In fact, most adults have different ideas about what “stress” actually means. I break stress down into two categories, positive stress and negative stress.
When is stress positive?
Stress encourages us to achieve greatness. It pushes us forward to accomplish our goals. It is necessary to create the right inspiration that lights a fire within us. Another way stress is needed in our daily lives is when we encounter situations and adrenaline is needed to get through a moment. Our bodies’ natural response to danger is “fight or flight” which brings about heightened alertness, higher levels of perception, and quick decision-making skills that can mean the difference between life and death.
How can we teach our children to use positive stress to their advantage?
The answer is so simple, yet most people don’t take the time to teach their children. The answer is goal setting. It is a valuable tool a parent can give their child. It allows a child to make their own decisions as to what they want to achieve, gives them something to strive for, and creates a sense of pride once the goal is achieved. Most people with specific goals are the ones who are happiest in life because they are working towards a grand result.
Stress Release Reminders journal technique is the easiest way to teach children about daily goal setting. Each page is designed to insert a daily goal, a daily affirmation, and just a few highlights from the day. It takes less than 5 minutes and is a powerful tool because children can go back and easily read their past accomplishments. Also, it gives a parent the quality moments we long to have with our children. Asking them, what do they want to achieve today, and how did it make them happy, are two questions a parent should know about their child. It gives the parent an insight into exactly what the child will want to do with their day. Most parents discuss the goals in the morning and write them down at night just before bed. This is a great way to finish your day and the children are more eager to share because they are prolonging their bedtime.
I know what you are thinking, “Who has time for journaling?” This brings me to another great stress management tool, which is time management. Teaching our children to slow down and prioritize what is most important will keep them on track with their goals.
When is stress negative?
The two biggest factors of negative stress are worrying about the future and dwelling on the past. These are the most damaging of stress and I call it useless mind chatter. It is an internal stress that many people live with daily and has become their way of thinking. In fact people even become addicted to this kind of hurried, tense, lifestyle.
For children, internal stress can be terrifying mostly because children’s imagination is their only outcome in scary new experiences. They have no idea what will happen next on the simplest of situations. They are going to have fears and worries. It is part of life. However, we can teach them the skills to over power future fears and let go of past events and quiet the mind chatter before it becomes an unhealthy habit.
What can we do to teach our children how to quiet the negative internal stress?
Teaching children at a young age to silence the useless mind chatter and focus on the present moment will give them a foundation for a healthier, happier lifestyle. Like any bad habit the sooner you bring awareness to it, the easier it is to overcome.
Awareness is the most important factor to silence internal stress. Taking quiet moments to examine your thoughts will help with awareness. I place Stress Release Reminder decals throughout my day to remind me to quiet the negative chatter of dwelling on the past and fearing the future.
With children, this process is much easier, because bad habits have not yet been formed. It is all about communication.
- Remind yourself to initiate conversations using Stress Release Reminder decals.
- Then ask them “Have you had any concerns today that may have made you anxious, excited, sad, or scared?”
- Then teach them how to make a Plan of Action
- Ask, “Can they change the concern to make it better?” If yes, help set goals to resolve the concern. If not, then let it go and replace the thought with a positive alternative.
This process will give a parent a wonderful view into their child’s outlook on life. Making a plan of action is a great complement to a night-time routine of goal setting journaling.