Kids are kind of like adults, except they are cuter, they can’t drink (legally), they can’t drive and they can’t cook – minus the drinking part, being a kid doesn’t sound half bad to me, I can live without driving and cooking. Like adults, kids also experience stress, who knew! I have always been envious of the carefree life children lead, but knowing that stress is a component, my envious feelings have been slightly weakened.
Adam and I participated in a workshop a few months ago on stress and how it affects children. It happened to be on the same night as game 5 of the ALCS, a critical night for the Blue Jays, so I am not sure how much, ‘paying attention’ there was, but it was a good reminder to be mindful of this very common emotion children feel, how to identify it and how to manage it.
Children demonstrate stress in many of the same ways adults do, they can be irritable, have trouble sleeping, want to eat more, have trouble getting along with friends, get stomach aches, headaches, and my two favourite forms of self-expression, whining and crying. This is where not being able to have a glass of wine would be troubling for me, wine solves a lot of problems, especially stress.
Stress can come from many different situations, some which we can control, and some which are just a part of life and learning and we can’t control, but can certainly help to manage. Here are some very common situations where stress for kids can arise:
• Change – moving to a new home, school (not controllable)
• Having too much to do – overloaded with activities (controllable)
• Having trouble at school with friends or schoolwork (semi-controllable)
• Getting yelled at (semi-controllable)
• Feeling rushed (controllable)
• Feeling lonely (semi-controllable)
Put yourself in your child’s shoes, if you are getting rushed out of your house and getting yelled at to hurry up, how would you feel? Stressed! If you were overloaded with things to do and had no time to relax, how would you feel? Stressed! What does this result in? Irritable and whiny children. Do we want that? No! Something I’ve put into practice is to put myself into my children’s shoes, and if I know I’d feel stress in a particular situation, I try to be mindful that they probably would as well. I’ve been conscious of this and it has worked wonders – reduced whining and crying, awesome. A few small changes, like not overloading your kids with activities, allowing enough time to get out of the house and being conscious of the yelling (yeah, I know, it is hard) can really make a difference. For the stressful situations you can’t control, love, comfort and understanding are huge.
If all else fails, there is wine, for you, not your kids. Have an awesome and stress-free weekend.