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Posts Tagged ‘Children and stress’

Keeping Your Child on Track through the Holiday Season

Guest Post
by Patricia Lutner

The holiday season is here. The holidays can be fun and joyful for families, but they can also be stressful and unsettling, especially for children. You can take steps to ensure your child has a positive experience and gets through this busy time with less stress. Here are some suggestions that may help.

  1. Provide good nutrition – Eating healthy, nutritious foods can be a challenge with all the treats and special holiday foods. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein to provide a balanced diet for your family.
  2. Help your child get enough sleep – A tired child is a cranky child. Being consistent with naptimes and bedtimes is especially important during the holiday season. This can be a challenge, but by planning and incorporating these times into your holiday schedule, you can improve your child’s behavior and increase everyone’s enjoyment of an event.
  3. Set expectations and consequences – Letting your children know your expectations for their behavior and the consequences of misbehaving is essential, especially during the holidays. You must be willing to follow through with the consequences, or the rules will have no meaning.
  4. Keep the rules developmentally appropriate – When setting rules and expectations, be aware of what is appropriate for your children’s ages and developmental stages. Often, parents’ expectations do not align with their child’s developmental capabilities.
  5. Stay calm and be flexible – Don’t lose sight of the goal of the holidays, which is to celebrate your family and the traditions important to you. Take a break if you are feeling overwhelmed, even if it is only 10 minutes to breathe and clear your mind. Staying calm will help you and your child enjoy this wonderful time of year.

Helping Your Child Cope with Divorce

Dr. Kyle Pruett AUnfortunately, half of American families face the likelihood of divorce.  Most of these families have children who will be affected, though it is hard to tell exactly how.

Here is what parents should know to help their children cope with divorce:

  • Although the stigma of divorce stings less these days, children almost never think it is as good an idea as the parents who seek it.  Don’t insult them by trying to talk them into agreeing with your point of view.  Children love having their families together and feel anxious when they start to come apart.
  • Most parents work at separating and divorcing without traumatizing their children.  With your support, children will recover from this loss without emotional scars or their ability to trust in relationships.
  • Perhaps the most difficult aspect of divorce to children, besides a change in family income and lifestyle that may accompany a divorce, is the threat to or end of their parents’ friendship with each other.  This particular loss may leave children feeling pretty alone and worried that they might be next.
  • Boys and girls typically respond differently to divorce; boys show their distress more obviously with behavioral, school, or social troubles.  Girls may seem okay at first with few outward signs of distress, but may suffer the effects later when they enter their first close relationship and feel overwhelmed by self-doubt, suspiciousness, and fear of abandonment.

Children who handle divorce best are the ones whose parents honor their children’s needs above their own, are able to work out good and fair financial arrangements and parenting plans, and most importantly – help the other parent be the best parent they can be.  In other words they are the children who don’t lose their families – just their parents’ marriage to each other.  This may be the most selfless and difficult thing parents ever do.


Navigating Childhood Stress

Did you know that children are just as likely as adults to feel stressed and overwhelmed?

Contributors to childhood stress include school, over-scheduling or family dynamics. Many young children put pressure on themselves by worrying about peer pressure, balancing school work with extra-curricular activities and making friends. Even preschoolers can feel stress. Their stress points may be separation from parents, a change in daily care or a new baby. Young children may express their stress through a change in their eating habits, talking less or trying to control bodily functions.

How can parents help? When your child complains about having too many things to do after-school or not wanting to go to activities – listen – this may be a signal that a child is over-scheduled and may need a break. Be sensitive to behavioral or developmental changes.

Parents should also be aware of how they manage their own stress and frustration. Children learn from their parents’ behavior, even if it looks like they’re not paying attention. Children are sensitive to everything their parents do and they will mimic strategies for dealing with difficult situations. Be a good role model.

One of the best coping mechanisms for children is routine. Young children thrive on routine; when they know what to expect they are more likely to adapt to changes faster and deal with their emotions better.