Kids Off The Hook? Maybe It’s Stress.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

Are your kids acting out more than usual? Screaming, crying, not cooperating? Refusing to go to school or to an after school activity? Rebelliousness? Or, maybe they’re just stressed out. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stress among kids is at an all time high with high school and college students often reporting higher stress levels than adults. What do kids have to be stressed out about? Read on.

According to Gina Shaw’s article pp. 61-63 in the September, 2015 issue of WebMD, there’s a whole list of things resulting from life in the modern world. Let’s take a look.

* Kids are asked to make choices leading to careers at a young age.                                             * Facebook and Instagram depict pictures of all their friends at social gatherings to which they were not invited and from which they are conspicuously absent                                                                                                                    * Kindergarten is the new first grade. What happened to blocks, finger painting, music, climbing and jumping?                                                                                                                              


* High stakes testing puts too much emphasis on performance on a few specific days rather than on how they function in the classroom over time
* Overscheduling sports, art and music. These are supposed to relieve stress, not add to it.                                                                                                                                     * Reduction of art, music, physical education in the school program eliminates outlets                                                                                                                            * Exposure to adult media content such as shootings, bombings, explosions, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, effects of global warming, prophesies of the end of the world, falling comets, black holes, drone attacks, terrorist atrocities, etc., causes anxiety and fear                                                                                   * Bullying and Teasing are no longer private matters since kids may be victims on Facebook, Instagram and through text messaging for everyone to witness                                  

* Too little sleep affects memory, judgment and mood
* Chronic illness has more than doubled in kids between 1994 and 2000 with obesity, asthma, type 2 diabetes, behavior and learning problems, and ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the top of the list
* Family disruption due to illness, death, deployment, divorce or separation, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, addictive behaviors with alcohol, drugs, gambling                                                                                                                                * Stressed out parents lead to stressed out kids 

What can you do to counteract these stressors? “Talk with your kids every day. Don’t over schedule so there’s time for free play on a daily basis. Talk about stress and suggest ways to control it, deep breathing, for example. Speak with a doctor about counseling referrals, if needed. Manage your own stress and watch the calm trickle down.”

As adults, we are much better equipped to deal with the stresses of every day life. Our self-esteem is more highly developed. Our happiness is not so dependent on the approval of others. We found a support system that gets us through the day. Most of us are well- settled into the lives we’ve chosen for ourselves. We are in control of our destinies with  decisions and choices of our own making. If we’re not happy in a situation, we have the mobility and where-with-all to move ourselves up and out. Kids haven’t yet developed these coping mechanisms.

Let me leave you with these thoughts. Be the adult in the relationship. Calm yourself. Get your head on straight. Be a role model, and a source of comfort and support for your children, as well as the adults in your life. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Prioritize. Then, let go. Must your child excel in violin and football? Trust that your children can occupy themselves constructively within unstructured time. Let them be. This is how they develop themselves. Present the tools, then allow them to utilize them in their own time. Don’t live vicariously through your children. Their successes ( or weaknesses ) are theirs. If you want bragging rights, then do something constructive and amazing with your own time. That success will belong to you. Don’t hijack the accomplishments of others to try to make yourself look good.

As a former teacher, I have a great respect for education. However, it does not only come from a formal lesson in the classroom. Books; cable shows; YouTube videos; public, school and private libraries; zoos; museums; community and back yard gardens; a walk in the woods, around the block or outside your home; a visit to the beach, a river or a pond, can all offer learning experiences. How about behind the scene experiences at a play, concert, sports event? Think about what can be learned from watching a construction project. Look up at the sky in the day, then at night. What do you see? Answer those questions and fill in the gaps with books, Google searches, TV and Cable specials. Let your kids explore. Their natural curiosity will look for answers. You get the idea— we can learn from everything in the real world as well as what is focused on in the classroom.

Education is knowing things outside yourself. Authentic learning complements formal learning.

Allow them time to find their own path. With so many options available in today’s world, it’s unfair to force a young person to choose before they’ve had a chance to investigate and try it on for size. As we know, one size does not fit all.

Help your children develop a high self-esteem so they might feel confident in the path they’ve chosen for themselves. A strong self-image counteracts negativity from immature and/ or aggressive sources. Allow them to pursue what they’re good at and what gives them happiness. This is how they learn to accept and like themselves.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Emotional Intelligence For Kids – A Coping Mechanism

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