If you are raising kids today, chances are you remember what it was like to spend your childhood free of technology, rewinding cassette tapes, talking face to face with friends, asking your parents for a ride, and agreeing on a pickup time because there were no cell phones.
While it may have seemed easier back then, there were still challenges. War, violence, inequalities, and bullying existed back then, too. Everything always seems easier looking back, and we often forget the difficult parts.
Raising kids in a world of uncertainty presents new challenges that require thoughtful planning but also provides a unique opportunity to bring families back together and make your home a safe haven for your loved ones. Keeping kids happy has little to do with what we are giving them and everything to do with the time we are spending together.
While life may have gotten more complicated, we have more tools and awareness than ever before to overcome obstacles and support our children’s emotional development rather than sweep their emotions under the rug. It is an opportunity to evolve emotionally, grow in spirituality, and heal our families. Growth doesn’t happen without struggles.
While we live in an era where overpacked schedules, technology, and social media are commonplace, many families are looking to slow down and reconnect. Here are 10 simple ideas to make raising kids in a world of uncertainty less stressful.
1. Accept and Validate Your Children’s Emotions
Accept and validate any emotions your children are experiencing. When you are upset and a well-meaning family member tells you to relax, how does it make you feel? Usually not any better!
If your child is feeling anxious about going to school, it won’t take those emotions away by telling them that they are okay or to not worry. What we can do is try to understand why they are feeling that way and then arrange for a confidence-boosting activity or one-on-one time during breakfast to help them feel secure and loved.
Resist the urge to tell them not to feel this way (this can be difficult!) even if you know they have nothing to be worried about. Share a time when you felt the same way and how you got through it.
2. Be Their Safe Zone
This is not about having the perfect family or home situation or being a pushover. Being their safe zone means your child can be themselves in their home without judgment. This one may require all siblings to be on board.
If they have an unusual hobby, ask them what interests them about it or how they feel when they are working on it. This benefits the whole family and encourages everyone to leave their stress outside and lead with their heart.
Give them some responsibility in the home to contribute that is not tied to an allowance or reward. If there are changes in your family or living arrangements, keep kids in the loop. They generally want to know how any changes will impact them. Keeping as much structure and predictability as possible will comfort them.
3. Limit Social Media and Stick to Your Technology Comfort Zone
Children are attracted to technology like a magnet. How do you feel after scrolling on your phone? Most would say not any better, but our children often lack the self-awareness to know when something is not making them feel good.
Don’t feel bad when your kids get upset with whatever rules you put in place. We have heard from countless kids that say they are happy their parents limit their social media and technology time. Although they may not admit it now, someday they will thank you!
4. Keep Connected With Centering Activities
Children and teens often need guidance to get out of their own heads. Family walks, yoga, church, and mindfulness activities are all great ways to connect and rebalance.
Mindfulness sounds more complicated than it is. It is doing anything using your full attention, and the benefits are vast. Art, cooking, listening to music, essential oil diffusers, and game night are just a few ideas to bring mindfulness and calm into your family time.
There are countless activities your family can do together to benefit from this practice. Consider theme nights where each family member gets a night to pick an activity for the family.
5. Get Involved Locally
What are some ways you can volunteer in your community as a family? Are there any neighbors that could use a hand? Check out school clubs.
While your child might not jump at the chance to join a school activist club, urge them to give it a try. They might just take interest in something new!
6. Help Your Family Develop a Growth Mindset
Not every day will be sunshine and roses, and it is not in our children’s best interest to make it that way. Mistakes are essential for growth. Challenges are needed to instill grit and determination.
Parents who praise their toddlers’ efforts instead of their talent were shown to have more positive mindsets five years later. These children believed their abilities could develop and improve with hard work.
Comment on effort and perseverance, rather than a perfect result. Instead of them relying on outside praise, help them notice how their effort made them feel.
How did it feel to keep going and figure that math problem out? What did you do when things got challenging? Are you proud of the result?
While no parent wants their child to suffer, sometimes it’s best to allow them to work through an issue themselves, knowing they have your love and support.
7. Guard Family Time
As our kids get closer to adolescence, they may show a preference to be with friends instead of at home. Try to guard at least one or two days a week for family time.
Again, no matter what they say now, they will thank you later. Take advantage of that time together to connect and do something fun like game or movie night, cook dinner together, or take turns picking an activity.
8. Help Your Children Take Charge of Their Well-Being
Help your child develop the skills to take charge of their well-being. Living in a world where our external environment is not always peaceful or within our control, it is essential to teach kids to take ownership of their inner world.
While every child is different, it is vital to help them explore activities that develop confidence and make them feel good. Sports, the arts, journaling, yoga, and meditation are just a handful of engaging options to help them find empowerment.
9. Resist Overscheduling
It is amazing that the word “no” is circling back into our vocabulary.
Kids will say yes to every activity if they could. It’s up to parents to limit commitments. Even too many fun activities in a week contribute to stress and burnout.
10. Develop a Morning Routine
Whether your children are at home or heading to school, our morning sets the tone for the day.
What would be a reasonable routine for your family? Fifteen minutes can make all the difference in the world to set your kids and yourself up for a great day.
Here are a few ideas:
- Affirmations – Work with your child to create a meaningful affirmation. Encourage them to say their affirmation with feelings and close their eyes and visualize what it feels like. Discuss how they will apply this in their day.
- Morning dance party – Pick an uplifting song to start your day.
- Prayer or gratitude practice – This instills hope and reminds your child that they are not alone. Our brain has a negativity bias, which means we tend to focus on problems rather than good things. It is helpful to make it a practice to notice the good. There is a lot more of it than we think!
- Conversation starters – Grab a deck of conversation starters and do one each morning at breakfast.
Finally, know when to get help. Having professional support to navigate challenging situations can make all the difference so that you and your children have someone to guide you.
Raising kids in a world of uncertainty certainly poses new challenges that we need to be mindful of. However, it also presents a unique opportunity to reclaim family time and create a home environment that is supportive and welcoming.
What changes can you make to your weekly routine to reconnect or fill each other’s emotional buckets? You may hear some grumbling as you make adjustments, but your kids will thank you later!
Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com
|||^||Harvard Graduate School of Education: Growth Mindset and Children’s Health|
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