This post is a partnership with Stress Health, an initiative of the Center for Youth Wellness, but the opinions expressed are my own.
Have you ever wondered where our children learn to be anxious or stressed out? I’m no doctor, but I’ve been parenting for a decade now – so I know all the answers, haha.
But really, I have figured out a few techniques that work with my kids, and I want to share them with you.
Of course. we need to start with a relatively calm and stress-free household. I’ve talked about that before. It starts with parents who can set boundaries for themselves, say no, and prioritize their own health. And then it continues with things like good nutrition, plenty of exercise, and appropriate amounts of sleep.
But I think one of the most important things when talking about emotions and anxiety in children is mindfulness. Being mindful as a parent often means taking a step back and thinking before reacting. And it also means teaching your children to do the same, which can be really hard.
Military Kid Challenges
Military kids go through a lot of uncertainty in their lives. They often don’t know when they are moving next and have a parent gone from home for months at a time, and they may not know how to express their concerns or anxieties.
As parents, we are the primary people molding our children’s minds and hearts. I have found its helpful to show them my emotions and anxieties as well, followed quickly by how I handle them. So when they say things like, “I miss my dad,” I always respond that I miss him, too. When they say they are worried about making friends when we move, I identify with that and we talk about ways we meet people and how we’ve made friends in the past.
Does your child ever come into the house, maybe from school or from playing outside, and suddenly spin off into a fit of rage? Or maybe they’re playing nicely and then you ask them to set the table and they start screaming and crying? Sometimes they don’t understand where this emotion is coming from either! It’s hard for us to witness, but can you imagine how frustrating that is for them?
Learning to self-regulate is something that kids can struggle with. Heck, adults can struggle with it too! But there are some great practices to help both of us discover what is really wrong and how we can fix it.
I always ask my children to stop and take a deep breath. Then we talk about what they are feeling, I sometimes ask questions to help them out. “Are you hurt? Are you sad?” Then we talk about what they want to do next.
It’s important to help them identify their feelings, learn the consequences of their decisions, and learn to act on them. It’s part of growing up and part of life.
Some children respond well to music, hugs, or even yoga to relax them. I encourage you to help your child figure out what works for them and then make it as easy to implement as possible. For more information, check out the Stress Health website.
Sometimes this means dropping everything to hug them. And sometimes this means leaving them alone to figure it out. It can be hard, but it’s necessary. It’ll be worth it. Hang in there, mom!