We all want our kids to have a happy childhood and upbringing, but today’s kids and young adults are under more stress than ever.
One of the reasons is because children today are always on the go. Their days are over-scheduled with enrichment classes and extracurricular activities. As they grow older, their anxieties include body image issues, peer pressure, and getting into a good university. Some may also grapple with family financial worries.
We need to instill resiliency in our kids at a young age, and help them nurture the confidence and skills to cope with hardships. Where to begin? Here are some tips to help you raise a stress-free child in today’s environment.
Kids don’t have to be happy 100% of the time. Be willing to let them experience sadness and frustration.
All parents want their kids to be happy. But instead of catering to their every need and jumping in at the first sign of frustration, know that it’s okay for your child to feel unhappy sometimes. It’s only through knowing sadness that they can know empathy.
If they’re upset about something, let them cry for a bit to release their feelings instead of frantically trying to shush, bribe or distract them. Kids need to know that it’s acceptable –and natural—to feel negative emotions.
Parents, as much as you want to, you can’t always be the one to cheer them up. What happens if they’re sad one day and you’re not around? It’s not your job to make your child happy all the time. What’s more important is preparing them for life’s ups and downs. Children need to learn how to make themselves happy. If they get used to waiting around for others to put a smile on their face, then they’re in for a lot of waiting.
Teach them to respect time.
Poor time management is one of the leading causes of stress. If your children don’t know how to manage their time, they will always feel in a hurry. They won’t be able to plan ahead and as a result, they will feel less in control of their lives.
Even before kids can read the clock, instill a respectful attitude toward time by saying things like, “When it’s light outside, it’s morning. That means it’s time to get dressed and brush our teeth.” Familiarize them with the sequence of events with reminders like, “After breakfast, it’s time to go to school. When you come home from school, we will go to the park.”
Introduce the importance of preparing for the next event with prompts such as, “5 more minutes, then it’s bed time.” Even if they don’t fully understand what it means to have 5 more minutes left,
they will grasp that soon they must stop what they’re currently doing
to move onto the next thing.
Kids who respect time are more independent and do not rely on you to marshal them through everything. You do not have to sit next to them when they’re doing homework. They will do what they need to do when they need to do it – by themselves.
Let them make mistakes.
If your child is assigned a project for school and it goes back to the teacher looking perfect, you’re not fooling anyone. Teachers know when parents take over their kids’ projects or over-revise their work, and it isn’t a good thing.
Making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Mistakes help children grow. And kids are remarkably good at figuring things out.
Those who never make any mistakes are likely to struggle later on because they will be afraid of trying new things and tarnishing their
flawless track record. When they eventually fail, and they will, they’ll take the hit that much harder.
Teach them to love and take care of their bodies.
Nurture a positive body image by being mindful of the way you talk about your own body in front of your children. Refrain from saying things like, “I’m fat” or “I need to lose weight.” Never criticize their appearance either, even if you do it in a light or joking manner.
Little kids are naturally active, but physical activities often fall by the wayside once they get older and start prepping for exams. Unfortunately, that’s also around the age when they become more conscious of their appearance. Too many teens struggle with weight issues.
An easy solution? Get in the habit of moving together as a family—and never give this up, no matter how busy you are. Whether it’s going swimming, taking an after-dinner walk, or biking on the weekends, impart a love for the body and its physical strength.
In the same vein, foster a positive attitude toward sleep. Don’t use “go to your room” or “go to bed” as a punishment. Create good sleeping habits, and help them look forward to resting. Explain that sleeping is the way their brains and bodies will grow. A line that works well with little kids is, “When you wake up, you’ll be happy/taller/smarter!”
By Jenny Tai