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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 January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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