As a parent we want our kids to have best and do best, so we sign them up for classes such as sport, art, piano, violin, Language learning, lego and robotics and so many more. 3 months break in summer will give kids some break but no, we sign them up with summer camps during summer break. When do kids get a chance be a kid and play? It seems because of extra activities and fear for safety, kids are no longer free range kids as 30 years ago. Kids are showing stress signs but acting up, health issues and other disciplinary problems which may indirectly related to being so busy and high exceptions from parents, to school. One of the kids who is in Private school 2nd grade has 2 hours daily homework, in 2nd grade, can you believe it? May you can but it baffles me.
There are many kids who are either bored and too much stimulated by activities that surrounds them. Parents are not happy either, many parents seems to think they are busy driving kids from one activity to another. If no one is happy, why do we parent do this to ourselves? Stress survey done by Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s health (Palo Alto) found that over 50% of 9 to 17 years old were stressed out on average to high level of stress. That can’t be good.
Tips for Less Stressed Kids and Parents:
We can not eliminate 100% stress and worries from our own life, let alone our children’s, however, we can surely try to minimize it by doing a few things. I think it may help parents and kids both relax a lot. Last semester, we followed hectic schedule our 2nd grader, and we have slowed down this month so we can get a bit breather. Here are a few things that we did that might work with other children as well.( Note I write child as he or him but this case goes for both girls and boys.)
1. Slow Down:
You might think every waking moment your child should be doing something magnificent or learning. And it might be hard to see your child laying on sofa doing nothing, telling you he is bored. Creativity strikes right after boredom happens in many cases. Unwind after school activity for a day. Let them think and soak up all they did and did not do.
If you do extra classes such as music, art, swimming and other cool things, make sure your child has only 2-3 activities per week so give him time to relax his body and mind.
2. Create Mini Goals and Solutions:
If your child has tons of home works or things to do, it can be overwhelming. Sure it is overwhelming for adults too. Breaking down things to do list or a problem in to mini section and tackling it helps see the result much faster and keeps us motivated, same thing with kids. In beginning you may need to help your child do this, until he learns how to do that on his own.
3. Create a Space:
Majority of our stress comes from not finding stuff when you need it, especially for kids. If your kids or you are always looking for book, home work or a project you worked on last minute, it will increase blood pressure for all of you. Create a space for your child’s things, school works, hobbies so he can put everything in its place and find it when necessary.
If you teach kids to clean up since they are young, it helps them when they’re older. However, there is never too late to start, even for older child or even teen. Teaching them keeping their stuff organize and helping them by getting them bookcases, boxes to store stuff.
4. Make Time For Sleep:
It has been said that minimum of 8 hours of sleep is needed to function better, but little kids to teens sometimes need more than 8 hours sleep. Do you remember when your infant was born, he was sleeping or cat napping 18 hours a day? Of course, kids do not need less sleep as they grow older, they may need 8-10 hours sleep to feel refresh and function properly. So, make sure you have routine for them and they get enough sleep to feel rested.
I have a younger kids so it is easier for me to stick to sleep routine and Zenguy has perfected sleep routine with kids so well, they know it and do it well. I am not sure yet how to enforce on teens but they can be reasoned with as well.
5. Eat Together:
With family so busy with activities and things to do, we hardly tend to eat together. I fall in this category occasionally so I know. Making time to eat together as a family does wonder to kids self esteem and share what they liked on that day and what they did not. Young kids tend be chatty so we listen a lot or should I say we try to. 🙂
Seeing family life together and what everyone has done that day, makes everyone feel in “know” and be part of something special. At least, I know I felt that when I was a kid.
6. Talk and Listen:
Being a parent can be demanding and we have things to take care of, bills to pay, dishes to clean, and so on, but taking time to talk to your child if something is wrong will help by asking direct and open questions and then listening to them. Always ask questions that can not be answered in “yes” or “no”. If you ask how was your day, you may get answer like “fine”. You should ask “What happened during X event?”
7. Let Child be a Child
Sometimes we want so much from our children and we think of them as little people. They are not, they are still kids and will make mistakes. When I teach some concept to R, and I expect him to get it, and when he does not I sometimes get frustrated. I usually do not get upset with other child making same mistake. So I came to realize that wearing mom hat makes me expect a lot from my own kids, so I tried to wear teacher hat and try to be rational when I know a parent in me want a super smart child, instead of just human child.
We ll need help to lessen stress in our children’s life and our’s too. I am a work in progress and as I mentioned despite using pen name of Zengirl, I get un-Zen sometime, so I wrote this article for me to read when I need little motivation booster.
How do you keep your self or your child less stressed and more happy?
Image source:Stree Free Kids Curriculum