How do we teach our kids to cope with stress?

By Pamela Garfield, LCSW
Site Director at Gunn High School

Our kids just got through the end of the semester and finals.  Finals, holidays, college applications and the many other pressures of this time of year can be very challenging. Sometimes life just takes over and we have to go into “survival mode” to get by.  However, once the storm has past, then what? How do we prepare our kids for the next stressful period? How do we help them handle the next big disappointment, such as not getting into their college of choice? How to we teach them it’s OK to relax sometimes so they are ready to handle the next big pressure in their lives?

The answer is really simple. The best way for us adults to help kids with their stress is to handle our own.  If you live a hectic life and have trouble finding time for yourself, your kids are noticing.  They pick up on more than you think! One of the scariest parts about being a parent is your kids watch your every move. Even if you tell them to behave one way (relax, calm down, it’s ok), if you are showing them something different (must press-on, must do everything) that’s what they learn is the “real” way.

January is here and is a time to reflect on the previous year and how we can be better for 2014.  If you notice that you have lost balance in your life and have difficulty handing stress in your life, this may be a time to pick up a few new habits.  Not only will you be helping yourself, but you will be teaching your children a valuable lesson; that life balance is important. While we must plan and work hard for our future, remember that it is ok to stop and enjoy the moment once in a while.  Grown-ups can have fun too.  Even the most caring and loving parents need time for themselves.  We strive to be our best, but sometimes we need to just “be” without a goal for achievement.  As adults, we need to remind ourselves that we are okay, even when things don’t go our way. So think about ways you can fit in a little more fun in your life, ways to keep yourself calm before life gets too overwhelming and ways to be kinder to yourself.  Your kids will notice.



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