Stress researchers now believe that the greatest risk for many children is the wear and tear of the way we live, which makes all of us more vulnerable to dangers from depression to obesity to substance abuse. Dr. Laura Markham, Clinical Psychologist
It was a typical day by most counts. It was full of the usual demands of an active household, with three young, vivacious, seemingly never still children and two loving, ambitious, tired, worn out parents. Home, community, and work commitments had left their habitual mark. Sometimes the mark felt like a gentle wrinkle on the face, detritus from the day. The exhaustion, the wear and tear, like a pesky old friend. While the day had been sunny, the night quickly went south. Tonight, the mark felt like a gash across the face. The normal exhaustion was accompanied by anger and sadness. She wanted a better way.
Sure it was the worn out factor. Seven o-clock isn’t called the bewitching hour by chance. It was also stress. Most adults can think to themselves about the source of their stress and what they can do about it. What about children and when adult stress ambushes the family? Like a pebble tossed into the water, undulating out ring upon ring of water, adult stress can create or add to the stress children already have in their lives. Children have a lot of it already! As stated in the first quote, the hyper pace of our days is taking its toll on our most vulnerable population. The American Psychological Association (APA) found in its annual poll on stress, that teenagers are as stressed out as adults. Frantic, multitasked everything, for everyone, is just a poor way for us to operate. It is hard on the emotions and self-control, harms the immune system, and wreaks havoc on the family trying to stay connected and cohesive.
In the article “Ten Ways to Help Your Children With Stress,” Dr. Markham offers ten suggestions for families to employ. From encouraging us adults to slow down and get centered in our lives and resisting the urge to over schedule our children, to teaching our children stress reduction strategies, like exercise and guided breathing, and choosing age appropriate activities that connect rather than over stimulate everyone’s senses, this article is chockfull of many great ideas. It helps the parent who regrets the bad moments and bad nights, and wants more consistently pleasant, less stressful beginnings and endings to the day. Someday, 7’oclock will seem like a kinder hour. Until then, I hope to rein in some of our lives. What do you do to handle stress in your home?