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Are Your Kids Stressed?

Are Your Kids Stressed?

    It’s common to hear adults talking about how stressed or overwhelmed they are, but do we hear from our children how they feel? Research finds that between 8 and 10% of North American children are seriously troubled by stress.

    I’ll never forget a class meeting I shared with my students some 6 years ago. The students were discussing their feelings and all but 1 boy said, “I’m so stressed!” They were 8 and 9 years old. Probing them further, I asked, “Why?” Here is the short list of reasons they mentioned:

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    1. Too much homework (I must note that they mentioned subjects areas
    outside of what I taught since I was always conscious about how much I
    have and NEVER gave any over the weekends.)

    2. Sibling Arguments

    3. Too many extra-curricular activities ie. feeling overscheduled

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    4. Parent expectations

    5. Home problems

    6. Stressed out parents always yelling

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    It broke my heart to see these young souls sharing their stories of stress.

    The only boy that day who wasn’t stressed called out emotionally, “I’m allowed to be a kid!” The room went silent. I asked him what he meant. He replied, still very emotional, “I get home from school, take a shower, put on my pajamas, do my homework, eat dinner, play or read then go to bed. I’m allowed to be a kid, Mrs. Kurt.” He was so right.

    Today, our children sleep fewer hours, play fewer hours and spend time by themselves fewer hours than ever before. The result is that they are stressed, even children as young as 3 research shows! One researcher, Dr. Kim Payne, was shocked to return to the United States after having lived and worked in war torn countries helping children cope with post-traumatic stress. What he found was that North American children were exhibiting the same physical and emotional signs of stress as the children in the war torn countries.

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    How can you tell if your child is stressed? Here are some signs to look for:

    Physical:

    * reoccurring headaches, neckaches or backaches
    * nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomachache
    * shaky hands, sweaty palms
    * bed wetting
    * trouble sleeping/nightmares
    * change in appetite
    * frequent colds, fatigue

    Emotional or Behavioural:

    * new or reoccurring fears; anxiety and worries
    * trouble concentrating; frequent daydreaming
    * restlessness, irritability
    * social withdrawal, unwillingness to participate in school or

    Family Activities:
    * moodiness
    * nail biting, thumb sucking, hair twirling, foot tapping
    * acting out, anger, tantrums
    * regression to baby-like behaviours
    * excessive whining or crying
    * clinginess, won’t let you out of site

    The best thing you can do is to discover the reason behind your child’s stress and then put a few things in place to improve the current dynamics. The step-by-step solutions will be discussed fully in my next article, going up tomorrow morning!

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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