#22: Parents Must Adapt to Help Kids Beat Stress – Like Research Scientists in a Lab

So, it’s been 13 years since I started learning about stress and stress management. I’ve been learning about overall health and wellness for about 25 years, but I really started to zero in on the concept of stress as the main source of my challenges with Asthma back in 2003. At that time, most of my stress and health research was done to solve my own personal wellness challenges.

Then, in 2009, I launched my website called Strictly-Stress-Management.com and since that time I’ve gotten serious about learning as much as I can about stress and how it affects the human condition.

Helping Kids Beat Stress… All Kinds of Stress

Lately, I’ve refined my research even more to studying how stress affects children and particularly, how a child’s experience of stress can dramatically affect their adult years for several decades if not over their entire lifetime.

And I’m not just talking about emotional stress. I’m also talking about physical stress, chemical stress and electromagnetic stress. The four of these together are known as the four main fields of stress. And of course, stress also comes in different levels of intensity and duration (acute or chronic, for example) and these levels will also play a major role on how it affects us.

Then, there is good stress and bad stress also known as eustress and distress. It’s now been proven, scientifically, that our stress mindset, being positive or negative, can either cause stress to be totally empowering or totally disempowering as it changes our stress index ratio. In other words, how we view stress can either make stress into something that can kill us or something that can extend our lives.

Anyways, all the different aspects of stress are so important to understand and I have wanted for the last few years to help parents understand how to leverage stress for their children instead of allowing their children to be traumatized and victimized by stress, anxiety and depression.

My Kids Have Been Like Guinea Pigs

With my own kids, they’ve received many benefits from my research into stress and illness because I tend to use them as my guinea pigs and so we learn what works and what doesn’t and then we hang onto the good and kick out the bad. In the early days of my experimentation, so to speak, there was a lot of trial and error, but now I have a much better handle on how to manipulate stress for good in their lives.

This is not to say that they don’t have stress; they do and, in fact, I want them to have stress in their lives and lots of it. The health psychology research clearly shows that children who are exposed to a lot of stress, if it’s constructive and controlled, do much better as adults than children who are protected from all kinds of stress in their early years.

However just exposing them to stress is nowhere near enough. Part of my experimentation over the last 10-15 years has been around adjusting and adapting my own behavior to try to become the kind of parent that is able to manipulate stress in a constructive and controlled way.

I Am The Lynch Pin… The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

The number one thing I’ve learned is that how I conduct myself matters if I want to have the most positive impact on my kids. Now, you may think that means I have to be all sunshine and roses all the time, but this is not true at all and I have found that I do my kids a real disservice if I am too nice to them, too often. Being nice, as it turns out, is often counterproductive to the goal of helping them be good at managing stress later.

But even more important than causing intentional stress in their lives, even if that stress comes directly from me, is to then be there to help them pick up the pieces and finally, I’ve learned that I must constantly be helping them connect the dots between the stress they are experiencing today and how it will affect them in the future or how it can benefit them in the future.

I am amazed on a regular basis about the amount of life coaching I do with my girls. I’ve learned it’s easy for them to fall off the rails and lose their connection between what they’re experiencing today and what they’re trying to achieve in their lives. Just like when they were young and I had to remind them daily to use their manners, I find that I spend countless hours explaining to them how the difficult experiences they have today could have a positive outcome in their lives if they’re able to keep their eye on the ball and hang onto their sense of purpose.

The biggest thing I’ve learned, is that I must practice what I preach. My children do need stress; I know that. I also know that I must constantly adapt and adjust my own behavior and my own attitudes so that I can be the type of nurturing parent that is capable of causing stress for them as well as helping them learn from and process that stress. And finally, I’ve found I must constantly figure out strategies to help them keep their eye on the ball of what they want their lives to be.

So Much More Than the Traditional Basics

And it’s not just a matter of saying go to school to get a Grade 12 Diploma, then go to college and get a degree and then go to college even more and get a master’s degree and then you can get a good job. It’s nowhere near as simple as this because there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of questions and concerns that come up all the time that have almost nothing to do with education and career planning and each one of these things can easily derail their confidence and self-esteem, if left unattended.

I used to believe all I had to do was get them through school and help them get a good job and they would be good to go; however, all my research into stress and stress management has more than showed me there is so much more to it and I must help them connect the dots on a much bigger puzzle than just completing their education and getting a job.

And I’m not even talking about just helping them understand relationships and family and I’m not just talking about faith, friendship, health, wellness, finances and all the other basics. All these things are important, for sure, but each of them is just one piece in the puzzle.

The Thread Running Through; the Outside Edge that Holds the Whole Puzzle Together

What I’m talking about is a thread that runs through all these things or perhaps, it could be viewed as the frame around the outside edge of the puzzle. If an edge piece falls out or goes missing, it can mess up my kids’ future for many years to come, if not permanently. And I find, the more I am willing to help them strengthen the stress management frame on their lives, the faster and better they are getting some very positive and sustainable results in their lives.

I am finding that by choosing to be predictive, proactive and responsive when it comes to helping them build and strengthen that frame, I prevent the need for them to become reactive and crisis oriented and to have to develop unhealthy coping techniques for stress, anxiety and depression, not to mention a whole host of other mental and physical health challenges along the way.

Basically, I have taught my children to manipulate and leverage stress, so they stay in the driver’s seats of their lives for many years to come and even if “bad stuff” happens as they move on in life, they will always have access to the tools to get back on track efficiently. And now that I have done this with my own children, I want to start helping other people do it to for their kids and their families as well.

 

Here’s what to do next:

1) Sign up to receive my four FREE slideshows about kids and stress as well as a whole bunch of FREE tools from my #MomsEndStress Program and my Stress Optimization Project designed just for moms. One of the tools is a Bullying Prevention Kit for families. All together you get 4 slideshows, 4 videos and about 10 other optimization tools.

Cheers,

Jill

About The Author

Jill Prince, MBA

Hi, I'm Jill. I'm a Certified Health Coach & Stress Management Consultant as well as a mom of 2 amazing teen girls - Julia & Clara. Through my work, I hope to honor & inspire moms by equipping them with dynamic tools to conquer stress & empower the future.

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