Modeling Good Stress Management
We all have it. I would guess that few of us like it. And as you know, the children in our lives are keen observers of how we manage it. That is why it is important for us to teach them how to deal with stress with grace and equanimity as often as possible.
Here are five ways you can model good stress management:
1. Take a break when you need it.
When you step back from a stressful moment or situation and take some time away, this shows your child that it is important to get space from stress. Whether it is sitting down to meditate, taking a quick walk outside, running a bath, or taking five breaths, modeling ways to come back to center will go a long way toward teaching your child how to cope with stress.
2. Create family quiet time.
This could be five minutes to meditate together; a moment or two of quiet reflection before starting a meal; or a half-hour designated for quiet reading, drawing/coloring, or relaxing (no phones, tablets, TV, video games allowed).
3. Strive for imperfection.
If you spill coffee everywhere, mop it up with a laugh. If you are too exhausted to clean the house before friends come over, embrace your clutter. Many of us have overactive inner critics telling us we are not good enough. Telling that critic to take a hike and accepting your imperfection is a gift to your child.
Whatever your family enjoys in terms of exercise, do it regularly (and if possible, do it together). Walks around the block, trips to the park, bike rides, the climbing gym, laps in a pool, yoga, tai chi...the possibilities are numerous.
5. Talk about the hard stuff.
As much as possible, strive to have an open, honest relationship with your child. Let the judgments, expectations, and worries go and be open to hearing what is really happening for them. Talk about what is hard for you, too. Work together to solve problems and create solutions.
Of course, these are not panaceas that will remove all stress from your life, but they will go a long way toward making that stress more manageable.