a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Helping Your Child Cope with Stress

Note: If you did not read my last post please scroll down and do so before continuing to read this.

Could your child be stressed?

This is 8-year-old Lisa's pictorial 11-hour day (I added a chore to the equation so maybe it is now a 12-hour day)

Is your child's day anything like this?

"Children are pushed to excel in school, in athletics, and socially at ever-younger ages. . .No matter how worthwhile the activities are singly, the cumulative effect can be disastrous." Don Kaercher, the author of the article I am using with this post.

What Can a Parent Do?
It takes commitment, but you can help your child manage stress:

  • Be alert for symptoms - Identify the source of the stress promptly. If talking gets you nowhere, go to older siblings or your child's teacher for help. Watch younger children at play for clues.
  • Set reasonable goals - Many parents mistakenly assume that children have maturity and self-sufficiency beyond their years. Don't feel compelled to sign up your youngster for every program that comes along, and don't expect your child to be the best at everything he or she tries to do.
  • Offer a positive example* - Show your youngster that you can master the stresses in your own life. Manage your time to minimize tension and confusion at home; don't let your child perceive you as someone who is always disorganized and harried. Most important, analyze your person priorities and reserve the time you need to spend with your child.
What to Teach Your Child?
The key is to give your child the tools and the confidence to manage stressful situations:
  • Self-awareness - Make sure that your youngster recognizes the inward signs of stress. Help them learn learn that rapid breathing, a pounding heart, or butterflies in the stomach are physical symptoms of emotional stress.
  • Management techniques* - There are lots of stress management classes for adults, but few programs for youngsters. Parents have to be the teachers. 
Youngsters from pre-school through high school can learn deep breathing, relaxation techniques and   imagery (creating positive mental pictures.) 

Encourage your child to let off steam through exercise, sports, dance or other activities without pressuring them further.  

Suggest they take a brief mental vacation from the problem and then return to the situation refreshed. 

Check your library for books about stress management. The same principles that work for you will work for your child, occasionally with modification depending on their age.
  • Problem-solving skills - Teach your child that once the source of a stress problem is identified, it must be managed. Work with your child to develop a plant of attack for solving or reducing the problem. 
The above information is from the article by Dan Kaercher. He credits the book, Coping with Childhood Stress by Barbara Kuczen. 

* This post and Tuesdays, while meaning to be helpful, have probably added more anxiety to your stress level and your already too busy schedule. 

I looked back over past postings and surprised myself at how many times I  have addressed our (yours and mine) need for stress relief and encouragement.  Below is a list of them.  Some are fun, most are short, some are serious, hopefully all are helpful, and all are just a click away. 

I hope you will choose to bookmark this post and return for a few minutes at a time to renew yourself.

I promise they are all simple, because. . . 
that's who, and what, I am.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our Children's Increasing Stress . . .

in an Increasingly Stressful World

My wonderful mother-in-law Jennie passed away over 20 years ago.  Today I uncovered an article she sent me with a handwritten note stating she had been given this material "some time ago."  I am guessing this advice was written almost 30 years ago --- It could have been written yesterday, except the stress-ors have greatly increased.

Before I get to the serious subject I am reminded of the routine pre-take-off airline announcement "in case of emergency be sure to put your oxygen mask on before you put on your child's" or something like that. It's a stretch, I agree, but here is a mother's day card from Heidi suggesting something similar..

and less stress!
The scenario:
Lisa, aged 8, just put in an 11 hour day: school, followed by soccer practice, followed by a piano lesson. It is almost her bedtime but Lisa has to review her spelling words. Instead of cooperating as she normally does, Lisa is alternately sobbing and shrieking. Her parents are genuinely shocked at her behavior.

The introduction:
In our hectic world it is unreasonable to expect a stress-free life. It is impossible.  Yet, too often, too many people consider excessive stress as an adults-only problem. Not so, says Dan Kaercher, the article's author.
               "The increasing incidence of stress symptoms in children indicates otherwise.
                 The adolescent suicide rate, for instance, has tripled since the mid-'50s.
                 Youngsters need guidance to make stress work for them not against them."

Gail's note: Remember, this article was written in the early '80s; as your read and absorb his points consider how far we have progressed digressed in the ensuing 30 years.

Why kids get over-stressed:
Not only do children have to cope with all the uncertainties and growing pains their parents faced, they have the following as well . . .

  • Pressure to achieve - Children are pushed to excel in school, in athletics, and socially at ever-younger ages.*
  • Over-programming - Soccer, tennis, ballet lessons, computer classes. No matter how worthwhile the activities are singly, the cumulative effect can be disastrous.
  • Floundering families - There are more divorces and single-parent families than ever before, placing a heavy burden on overextended parents and their children.
  • Changing values - Youngsters today face tough choices about drugs, smoking, drinking, and sex much earlier than their parents did.
  • Other worries - Fears about nuclear war and the economy take their toll on kids, just as they do on adults.
Watch for stress symptoms:
How well a child handles stress depends largely on his or her age, temperament, emotional well-being, and coping skills. Even in the same family each child is different.  Too much stress usually triggers behavioral changes.
In younger children - symptoms can include bed-wetting, compulsive crying, hair-pulling, and nightmares. They may become uncharacteristically dependent or demanding.
In older children - the symptoms are more subtle and can include excessive TV-viewing, overeating, difficulty concentrating, and chronic sleepiness or it's opposite, insomnia. Also, vague physical complaints--headaches and stomachaches unrelated to any illnesses.

In Friday's post I will continue with suggestions from Kaercher's article . . .

  • Three important things a parent can do 
  • Three important things a parent can teach

. . . to help your child cope with stress.

*You may want to check out my earlier post on young children and organized sports. http://thecreativecheapskate.blogspot.com/2012/08/helpful-guidelines-for-easing-little.html

I am Simply, Gail striving to bring you simple ideas to help you with the various aspects of YOUR life and YOUR challenges.