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Keep Calm And Carry On!

Weight of the world on your shoulders? Your kids may be carrying it on their backs as well

Educators and therapists agree that both children and adults need to manage their stress or it will get the best of them. Stress can cause health problems for parents and can cause children to feel sad, worried, angry or guilty. Here are some tips culled from several expert sources on how to help parents and children de-stress.

For Your Children:

  • When you make a mistake, or lose your temper, apologize. That shows that you're human and lets them know they weren't the cause. It teaches them it is OK to make mistakes and also how to apologize.
  • If your family calendar is too full, ease up on your children's activities. Today's kids are often over-scheduled and overbooked.
  • Allow time every day for lots of free play, which helps children relax.
  • Have meals together as a family.
  • When your child opens up to you, whether it is in the car on the way home from school, or at midnight, stop everything and listen.
  • Make time to immerse yourself in your child's world. Schedule daily or weekly play time with each child during which they are in charge. Don't correct or direct.
  • Teach your children the benefits of eating well and exercising. The Stress in America study shows that kids who are overweight feel more stressed than children who are not overweight.
  • Vary routines just a little to surprise your family. Light candles at dinner or serve it on a blanket in the family room. Small surprises can delight your children.
  • Make sure your children get enough sleep.

For Yourself:

  • Give yourself a break after a particularly bad day. You're not the only parent to lose their temper or feel stressed.
  • Examine your schedule and figure out what times of the day seem to trigger a blow up. Work on being calmer during those times.
  • There's a moment before you act during which you can change the course of your actions. Recognize that moment by breathing deeply or slowing down.
  • Take a parenting class or check out a book from the library to better understand child development and your child's behavior.
  • Lower expectations. Instead of spending two hours baking cookies from scratch, buy cut out cookies and canned icing. Enjoy the decorating together.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  • Come up with a catch phrase that lets you off the hook or calms you down. Try something like "This too shall pass", "Be gentle", "The struggle is optional". Write the quotes on sticky notes and paste them all over the house.
  • Make space in your day for absolute quiet, even if it is only a few minutes.
  • Try prayer and meditation.
  • Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Deeply. Practice deep breathing when you are calm and it will come more naturally in the heat of the moment.
  • Carve out time daily for something you enjoy. Even two to five minutes a day can add up when you're working on a project like organizing photos.

It's so good to find an organization like Fathers For Equal Rights that has experience going back to 1974!
  -- Chuck H. - Fort Worth, TX

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