Your children need to reduce their stress levels!
Let me start out by asking you to take some deep breathes. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Your breath out should be equal to or longer than the breath in. You will now get more from what you read because you are more present in this moment to pay better attention.
Let's talk about stress in children...
I often talk about kindergarten being the most stressful year of school and I know that surprises many people. This is why. At 5 years old children have not had enough life experience or the maturity and cognitive skills to handle issues that come to them.
They don't have a bag of coping skills to pull from that older kids and adults have. This causes them more stress.
Another big stressor is inconsistency. Inconsistency in parenting makes life very unpredictable and then they do not feel safe. That's why you hear all the time how important being consistent is in families. Kids that live with inconsistency can have anxiety as they get older.
Consistency means having integrity. You do what you say you are going to do. We would like adults to live their lives with integrity and many don't. Wouldn't it be much easier if everyone just did what they said they were going to do and lived their lives based on what they say?
Your child learning this will help change the world of blame to one of responsibly and ownership.
Social issues cause children to have stress. Making friends, not making friends, having arguments with friends not to mention all the stress that we did not have with social media!
This starts really young and never ends. Adults have friend issues as much as children do.
The one rule I try to stick with when it regards friends is that friends are good to each other. No one is perfect and friends will get upset with one another but in general you are good to each other.
Teaching and role modeling this to your children will help them in relationships and help them avoid toxic relationships. Remember, your kids learn how to be in relationships based on your relationships. Do you need to reevaluate your relationships?
If there are globally tragic events or national events in the news and in the media it is best for children to hear about it first from you. Keeping the information from them or trying to protect them from it robs them of the opportunity to learn how to handle stress.
The tornadoes in Texas were on the news often. Watching this with your kids and thinking of ways to help survivors will teach compassion, empathy, and kindness. These are things that can only improve the world.
Kids may not be able to do that much because they are children but they can be a part of what you do to help and it might just be with prayer that you help or sending positive energy to those who need it.
You are teaching your children not to avoid or run from uncomfortable feelings but to be proactive and in touch with their emotions about these events. They are supposed to be sad or angry or scared, that is real life stuff and emotions that everyone feels.
If you protect them from any negative emotions and present the world unrealistically they will crash and burn when they discover that that was not true. Give them tools to handle stress by letting them have stress and live through it with your nurturing and support.
So now what are you supposed to do?
Be Grateful. You and your children can start appreciating what you have now and acknowledging those blessings. I have read in many places and have attended a seminar, The Habits of Happy People, which address how significantly being grateful affects your current feelings of happiness.
There are several studies about the benefits of meditation for adults and they are starting to conduct more studies about the benefits in children. This study, Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People, by Katherine Weare states:
“When children and young people learn to be more 'present' and less anxious, they often find they can pay attention better and improve the quality of their performance, in the classroom, on the sports field, and in the performing arts for example.
"They often become more focused, more able to approach situations from a fresh perspective, use existing knowledge more effectively, and pay attention.”
Wow, don't you want to get some of that?
I would start mindfulness small with about 3-5 minutes of breathing and focusing only on the breathe and then grow from there with a long goal of about 20-30 minutes but any amount of time is better than none.
It's not necessary to process and discuss events that happen but to help the children get themselves under control and back to the present moment.
At night many children are supposed to pray before bed, this is a perfect time. Even if you don't pray at night it's a great time to relax and prepare children's mind and body for sleep.
I have been teaching parents how to prepare children for sleep for years and have always included some sort of wind down with reading, praying, talking or mindfulness. Children have a better chance of sleeping well, peaceful, and without worry after doing a wind down.
So to wrap this up...
Be consistent, be kind, present the world to them realistically, role model how to handle stress, allow them to feel all emotions from a young age so they learn to handle all of them, breathe, be grateful often, breathe and stay in the present moment with your children. You will enjoy them most if you are present!