Coping with Stress and Children

Coping with Stress and Children

Having children can be…. no, let me rephrase that…. Having children IS a major change in your life.

Some people find it easy, but others find it difficult. Most people alternate between the two – sometimes it’s simple, other times it is a major challenge and a huge source of stress and worry.

Being responsible for a small but rapidly growing human can bring about a very complex set of feelings.

If I touch it, will it break ?ReservedForParents

What if the baby cries ?

How can I get it to sleep ?

What if I (or my partner) lose my job and can’t afford to feed it ?

How will I know how to support my child when they are older ?

Mathematics homework !! I couldn’t do it when I was at school, how can I ever help my child do theirs ?

How on earth do I juggle sick kids and employment ?

Teenage boyfriends or girlfriends ? OMG !!

Are you suddenly finding it difficult to deal with the stresses of raising your children – be they brand new babies or toddlers, tweens or teens ?

Or, perhaps the stress of it all has been creeping up on you slowly over time…..and then one day you suddenly realize that you are not coping.

There are many signs that you as a parent may be under some stress.

Clenching teeth, voice rising in pitch or volume, you may feel your heart begin to race, sweating, headaches, loss of balance: these are all signs of someone who needs to stop what they are doing and try to relax.

Feelings of being unable to cope and being out of control can be, for some, overwhelming.

Facing your problems head on is going to help you with lowering your stress levels almost immediately.

As a parent, you will need to learn to handle stress.

You will need to learn (and try) to remain calm throughout the many different and difficult situations that children of all ages can ‘throw’ at your family and into your life.

In order to keep calm – no matter what the situation – you have several options. All of them require a form of self-control, of conscious and deliberate mind set, a healthy dose of humor and some learned behaviors.

Some of these stress-busting options and coping mechanisms require patience and practice: not easy in “the heat of the moment”.

However, when armed with a bit of foresight, these suggestions can make life just that little bit easier.

You can make a joke, see the funny side, or laugh about it.

I recall taking my wife, our 2 year old and our new born baby home from the hospital.  The moment we put our 2 year old into the car, she started to cry.  This set our new 3 day old baby off too – the noise of two very young howling children in the back seat of the car as we drove out of the hospital car park was horrendous and remarkably stressful.

However, my wife and I looked at each other, held hands, and simply laughed.  Thinking about it from an outsider’s point of view, it was very funny.  If it was someone-else, it would have been hilarious !UnattendedChildren

The simple support we gave each other in that moment allowed each of us to calm down… just a little.

Deep breathing will make you feel better.

Inhaling slowly, counting to 10 and then exhaling slowly, also while counting to 10, then repeating this several times will have an immediate effect on your stress levels. Bonus points are given if you close your eyes too.

Filling your lungs with air and oxygenating your body and brain allows you to consciously stop and assess what it is that is making your heart race, your blood boil or your mind turn to mush.

Coping in this way with long deep breathes allows you to formulate your next thought, or action, or words.  It can inspire clarity, logic and control.

One evening my brother-in-law was stuck with a problem.  His wife was sick, his son was sick, his daughter was supposed to be at basketball and his other son was supposed to be at scouts….an hour away from the basketball courts….and neither of them really wanted to go because they were worried about the homework they had – and they were all tired anyway.  No-one had had any dinner.

And, my brother-in-law had had a shocker of a day at work and simply was NOT in the mood.

The conflicting directions his family was pulling him in at that moment in time was causing him a major tension headache.

So, he stopped, he closed his eyes and he took 10 slow deep breaths.

He then opened his eyes and said, “who wants pizza ?”

Scouts and basketball were cancelled.  He went out to get supplies of medication and picked up some pizzas on the way home.  As he went out he instructed his two healthy children not to worry but if they could give their homework a red hot go, he would help them when he got home with the dinner.

Stopping and breathing allowed my brother-in-law to focus, to think, to calm down, to determine the best course of action and to cope with the situation.

You can go for a walk.

Depending on the seriousness of the situation and how upset you are, going for a walk is an excellent way to cope when you feel that stress attack coming on.

Running away is not the intended action here. Going for a walk around the block, or to the shops, or through the local park is a very similar stress reducing alternative to the deep breathing mentioned above.

Clearing the mind, getting some fresh air and temporarily removing yourself from the stressful situation can help reduce your stress levels.  It can help you to formulate your next move for when you return.

Grabbing the phone or MP3 player on the way out the door and listening to some calming music while walking can double the benefits.

You can set clear goals and boundaries.

These will change over time as your child gets older.

Babies need routine – “eat, play, sleep” is an often repeated mantra.  The baby will not consciously know that these are your goals, but they will pick up the routine very quickly.

Children need to know what is appropriate in any given situation and what is not.

Make it clear that they do need to eat their vegetables at dinner time, that throwing a tantrum when you do not buy them a chocolate bar at the supermarket is not the way to behave, that saying “thank you” when someone gives them something is the correct response.

Young children do not need to know “why” (and usually they cannot understand anyway) – they just need to know “what”.

Teenagers can be reasoned with.  They can understand why you are setting goals and boundaries if you explain it to them.  However, as is the way with teenagers, at some point you as the parent may need to put your foot down.  This can be a stressful situation, but by being in control you can then deal with your stresses using the above suggestions.

And you can help your teenager use these methods too.Hands

Remember how you used to feel when you were a teenager ?

Homework, school, teachers, expectations, growing bodies, peer and social pressures, sex, drugs, rock and roll – nightmare !!

Help your teen by being someone who:
• is a calming and soothing influence,
• is in control,
• has an open heart,
• has an open mind,
• is a loving parent.

Parenting can be stressful.

However, it also can be one of the most rewarding and uplifting delights you will ever have the pleasure of experiencing.

Good Luck !!



from Calming Music Weekly.

P.S.  How do you cope with the stresses of being a parent ?

Do you have any specific examples of a stressful parenting situation ?  What did you do to stop the stress ?

You may like to read further about Stressful Parenting and the Art of Not Doing Stupid Stuff.

Photo Credits – Enokson , Charlie Brewer , BuckDaddy ,

P.P.S.  Don’t forget to visit our new Calming Music Shop !

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