Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kids and Stress

Logically, I always knew that parents'  stress did sometimes reflect on kids.  That was my experience growing up.  As a parent, I hadn't thought seriously about my stress or its impact until I started seeing it in my kids. 

This past month (May) was very stressful for me, for many reasons.  And much as I tried to keep to a routine, much as I might try to keep things normal - some of that stress made it through.  Because I noticed my children's behavior and responses changed. 

Both of my kids were easily frustrated.  When I said no, when I couldn't do exactly what they wanted, when they wanted me to, they get (would get) mad.  And I realize this frustration is typical for their age.  It was just they were more frustrated than usual, and more demanding.  There are other, more personal signs as well.  Both easily burst into tears.  They slept a bit more (or woke up with bad dreams). 

So we're dealing with the stress pretty much the same way an adult deals with it (without the adult knowledge of "this too will pass").  We talk. I give them lots of space. If I can't do something, I patiently explain why, and what other options we have.  Sometimes this involves me asking them what I just said (in a calm manner) to see if the message sunk in. 

I make sure they have decompression time each day - some of which is just time spent watching tv.  Just as watching tv helps me to decompress, I think it also helps them.  I spend time with them each day, trying to be present.  Letting them know I love them.

I try to remember that they are young, they're not used to this stuff.  They need routine as much as anyone. 

It can simply be really hard to make promises, to give reassurance to one's children when there is no reassurance.  Some things are up in the air.  That's life. 

So far, they have been incredibly resilient.  And for that, I am very grateful. And I am working, diligently, on my stress level.  June should be a much calmer month than May, we don't have much planned.  We can spend time at the pool, and have lots of unplanned time.  Many of the stressful things are now not nearly as stressful or urgent, and for that I am also thankful.

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