Parent Overwhelm: 5 Tips to Cope with Stress.
I recently watched a Ted Talk and I thought I would summarize here a few of the key elements in raising families. How adaptability and values, can help us cope with the chaos, stress, and overwhelm. Read on:
- Kids do sense that their parents are out of control. even when parents think they hide it well. Kids are amazing barometers. They feel our energy so well. Kids also take on their parents’ stress. It’s no wonder there is an epidemic of anxious children.
2. Chores in the morning DO work well. And a better option than letting kids on their screens and them fighting with them to get out of the house. Kids who do chores in the a.m. usually are happy to leave the house because… the fun lies ahead… just think about it 🙂
3. Checklists work so well. They reduce the confusion and they become part of a routine and rhythm. They help children feel safe, and rhythms keep them grounded… and there is less arguing in the process.
4. Finally, his three key elements: adapt, empower, and tell your story, are so true.
- This world is always changing… even within the microcosm of our tiny lives.. change is a certainty… rigidity is a killer and a recipe for disaster. Adaptability (us modeling it as well as parents) teaches kids resilience. Not all families are the same what matters most is time spent together. We all have such different circumstances. So I do agree with him when he says we need to adapt “parenting tips” from so-called expert to fit our unique family needs. There is no one size fits all. Finally, if we can model flexibility as parents, our kids will also become flexible individuals. Adapting also means that we need to get off our pedestal and get to our children’ levels and acknowledge that they too are wise individuals and that their feedback is essential. They are our greatest teachers.
- Humans need their daily dose of power and connection; this includes kids. We only need to discipline no more than 10% of the time… our most important role as parents is to teach. We do need to focus more on what they do right. They are new to this world; we are veterans. Of course, they will make mistakes. Children NEED to make mistakes. Mistakes are what build our character, allow us to discover who we are, what we are made of, what we like and dislike. Mistakes are necessary, too bad they get such a bad rap… maybe we should just call them something else :-). Empowering kids means that we need to give them their healthy dose of power/control on a daily basis. This also means that we need to stop overprotecting them and allow them to fail and experience negative feelings. Where else are they going to learn to cope with strong emotions if not under the safety of our roofs? There are no better lessons than life lessons. Way more powerful than lectures, punishment, and reward… kids need to fail to learn how to rise… and to rise strong, that is. Although its hard to see them suffer, it is necessary. Just be there on their side and validate, empathize, and support so that they will learn how to do it for themselves when you are not there.. and THIS will strengthen their self-worth in the process.
- Last but not least… our kids do need to hear our stories 🙂 over and over … my daughter always asks me (especially in the car because she gets bored) “mommy tell me another story when you were little”.. and I do tell her the good, the bad and the ugly.. and she has no preference.. they all feed her.. and she loves hearing them over and over again. OUR stories are really like fairy tales (not the Disney versions).. they have archetypes, they have good and evil, victors and fallen souls… fairy tales feed our children’s souls (see Waldorf education/Steiner)… I think this is why kids are captivated by our stories… I remember my nanny telling me over and over again (she was Dutch) the story of how her husband escaped the Nazis… you would think I would have been terrified, but I wasn’t… I needed to hear it again and again… it was a story overcoming the worst odds, and 40 years later- that story is still in my soul. Stories teach them how to overcome the negative and that it is part of life…and then it doesn’t become so scary to have negative experiences…they teach us that.we are the heroes in our lives… in their lives..no need to be rescued by prince charming… 🙂 we can rescue ourselves! (…and that it’s also ok to ask for help in the process).
5. What a beautiful gift to create a mission statement UNIQUE to our family based on our values. And to place them on the wall. Values drive our choices. Kids are bombarded with over 25K advertisements a year… they compete with our family values on a daily basis… so we need to hold on tight to our values, teach them to our kids so that they can embody them and resist strong external pressures. SO that our values flow in their veins, and are the oxygen that keeps ’em going, the compass to their lives. Through the stories of our lives that we share with our kids, they will learn through osmosis our values, they will become part of their core and they will not waver, even in your absence. And then you can rest that they will resist peer pressures that could hurt them.
As Feiler said. “Happiness is something we create not something we find”. Our values drive our choices. We can choose to be happy and teach this to our kids in the process… What a beautiful gift.