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How to Relax Around Your Young Children

How to Relax Around Your Young Children


    It is very easy to relax around other people’s children, but not so much around your own young ones — and by “young” I am speaking between the ages of 3 and 6 years old.

    If you are a parent at a playground brimming with kids, and you suddenly hear a shrieking cry or the sound of an almighty temper tantrum, nothing is more relaxing at that precarious moment to find that the culprit is not your child.

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    But what if it is your child?

    Are you the kind of parent who just freaks out? Are you constantly on a knife’s edge with merely the thought of your child potentially misbehaving, getting into accidents or creating an ungodly mess?

    I certainly am.

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    However, I have gotten a lot better over the years by following these general guidelines:

    Get Off Your Helicopter

    It seems that the “helicopter” school of parenting has garnered a tremendous following in recent years. This style of parenting involves constantly hovering above your children, closely supervising every bit of their activities. While I understand the preciousness with which all parents regard their off-springs, such a modus operandi is not only suffocating for the kids, but can produce insufferable stress for the parents.

    Having started out as a severe practitioner of this parenting method, I have gradually learnt that my two boys (aged 3 and 5) are actually much more resilient than they appear, that they do not need constant encouragement or positive sideline commentary when playing, and that the messes they create (whether on their bodies or around the house/car) are rarely irreversible.

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    More importantly, by getting off my “helicopter”, I have realised how much more I enjoy being around my children, and how less often my shoulders and neck strain from the anxiety of surveying their every move.

    Respect the Kids’ Clocks

    Some parents expect their children to promptly respond to commands. Unfortunately, children do not usually respond to a request the first few times (if at all). This naturally leads to the parent repeating the request (“brush your teeth”, “cleaning up your toys”, “turn off the TV”) again and again, with each iteration accompanied by increasing irritation. It has taken this long for me to realise, however, that my children are not deliberately defying me in such situations but are merely following their own internal clocks.

    While I count the Greenwich-Meridian-based seconds after each request, ruminating as to why they are not responding, my boys usually hear the request but decide to attend to it after whatever it is they are doing at that time, be it assembling a Transformer kit, trying to cram a teddy bear into the kitchen drawer or playing an iPad app that I never knew I had. The point is, eventually, they do respond, just not in the timeframe that I autocratically expect. On the other hand, their tendency to respond markedly deteriorates the more I repeat the request because the repetition then becomes white background noise.

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    So, tell your kids what to do in firm fashion—contrary to some new-age thinking, I believe you have the right to do that as a parent. However, give the little ones a chance to respond in their own time. This will not only eliminate much angst but will help you avoid that dreaded “nagging parent” perception in your children’s eyes.

    Breathe and Smile

    Beyond their clocks, parents need to respect that children are little people with their own personalities and idiosyncrasies. Consequently, it is rare (in my experience anyway) that they will behave in a way that perfectly meshes with your own standard or emotional state. Once you accept that, the only way to relax around your children is to set the broad, non-negotiable limits and then allow your kids a free rein within those limits.

    Of course, they will still do things within those boundaries that make you uneasy or anxious. However, that is where the “breathe & smile” technique comes in handy—a crude but powerful technique that invariably puts things in their proper context and makes you feel blessed to have children of your own.

    Young children between the ages of 3 and 6 are, by their very nature, excitable creatures foreign to the concept of being “relaxed”—that glorious state in which they are so agreeable and malleable. One way they learn is by watching how their parents behave. So, instead of inadvertently having your agitated emotional state rub off on them, learn to relax around your children. It is good for them developmentally, great for their perception of your persona, and downright invaluable for your own emotional well-being.

    (Photo credit: FAther and Young Son Fishing via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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