6 Tips to Help Our Kids De-stress

Hello all,

For those of us who are parents, the idea that our kids are not finding effective ways of coping with stress is scary.  When you see all of the problems with childhood obesity, anxiety, depression, eating disorders etc.  there is often a fear that we are not doing enough for our kids to help them with the challenges they face.

After 35 years as a nurse and 28 years as a mom, a specialist in stress management and developer of effective “in the moment” tools,  there are some simple strategies that we can  use with our kids that will help them calm down and “live more in the moment” (and by teaching them these tools, we are also doing them ourselves so it is a win/win).

1 – Teach them to breathe intentionally. As I described in the #3 of the  “Moment-Is Challenge” taking 3 deep breaths into the area around the solar plexus has a calming effect on the whole system.  Set aside time each day to coach your children through the breathing.  Some ideal times to do this include:  a) before you drive out of the driveway on the way to school, b) when you pick them up from day care, school or dance class, c) before they start their homework and d) before they go to bed.  Do it with them, you will both calm down tremendously.

2.  Help them remember something that makes them smile – it could be playing with a friend, riding their bike, dancing, playing soccer.  Tell them to close their eyes and smile or laugh about a good memory they have.  By helping your kids remember the good times they’ve had can help them recreate those feelings in their bodies and counteract the negative effects of  stress.  It is very easy for all of us to remember and obsess about the negative stuff and it takes effort to reconnect with the positive.  By setting this intention with your kids it helps both of you connect to positive emotions.

3.  Develop a habit of talking about “what went well today”.  When our kids were younger and still at home we tried to have everyone come up with 3 things that were good about the day.   I tried to focus on this a couple of times a month.  What I noticed is this was often difficult  to do depending on the drama of the day (it is really easy to focus on the bad but not so easy to focus on the good).  If your younger (and older) children cannot come up with something good you may need to coach them through this.  Our youngest daughter was the recipient of a fair amount of bullying over the years which made this exercise challenging.  We  needed to focus on things at home that were good(because school often was not) , for example: “Molly (the older dog) snuggled with Charlie (the puppy) isn’t it cute they are getting along better than they used to”.

Please let us know challenges you find in doing this.

4. Get them active – try and go to the park after dinner, ride your bikes, if it is lousy or cold outside turn on some tunes and dance, sing to the music, let your spirit soar!!!

Be your goofiest self, feel the groove to the music and let it out.  Your children may be shy to start, that is okay, be the role model and it will help you de-stress as well.  This not only helps all of you release the tension it also creates a closer connection when you can laugh and play together. Having fun, enjoying each others’ company and appreciating life helps to increase our serotonin levels which is the feel good hormone we have circulating through our veins.  We can naturally increase this by feeling joy and observing joy in others.

5.  Healthy eating – Healthy eating is fundamental to a positive outlook on life.  It is a challenge with all of the busyness of the day/week/month to find time to prepare healthy foods for our kids (and ourselves).  However, taking the time to plan can pay off in huge ways – nutritionally, economically and your sanity. What I try to do (and am successful 60 % of the time) is plan my meals on Sunday and do the grocery shopping for the week.

I like to spend time on Sunday afternoon making a meal or two for the week with the kids.  Some things I do in batches include soup, spaghetti sauce, cut up veggies for lunches etc. This is a great activity to do with the kids as it teaches them about healthy eating and also creates some quality time with you. We often have a nice family meal on Sunday night that will help us with leftovers for lunches or dinners on Monday night. As much as I know this works well for me, I am not good at always getting it done.  If I do not get a chance to do this meal prep, I make sure I have some staples in the house like brown rice, sweet potatoes, frozen chicken breasts, cans of salmon or tuna as well as salad fixins and veggies so I can throw together something when I get home.  I find it so frustrating to get home at the end of the day and there is no food in the house to feed anyone.

If your children are a little older, ask them to plan and prepare one meal per week. Set up some guidelines to help them learn about healthy food choices that will improve their energy as well as their performance in school.  Make sure they include at least one vegetable and some protein in their meal prep.  If their dinner of choice is macaroni and cheese you can suggest they make a salad, add some broccoli or carrots etc.  Make it fun!! I found How to get your kids to eat but not too much was an excellent source of wisdom on the healthy eating dilemma.

6. Practice relaxation and visualization exercises – One of the best ways I used to help my kids de-stress at night was to do a guided relaxation and visualization exercise with them.  I would put on some relaxing music, and talk them through a visualization where they would get into a special place inside of them and just be there. What I found incredible about doing this was that as I guided them through this exercise, the benefits were huge for both of us. The thing is this did not add another thing to my day, it was a way of connecting with my kids when I was helping them get ready for bed.  What works well is to set the intention that you are going to help your kids feel relaxed and calm before they go to bed and this exercise helps with this.

With the launch of the Moment-Is website in July I will have a variety of relaxation podcasts that you can use with your kids to help them get into that relaxed state.  By learning to fully relax, visualize positive experiences, get connected with themselves and meditate,  children (and adults) learn they have the ability to control their emotional state which will serve them well throughout their life.

Let me know how things go with your kids as you use these suggestions.  Each one of these activities will not only help your children de-stress but will also improve the connection between the two of you.  You can use any one of them at any time throughout the day.  Good luck.

Take care all and I will blog with you again soon

Gerrianne

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