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What to Do If Your Child Is Stressed

What to Do If Your Child Is Stressed

    Does your child often get sick, or do they constantly whine and cry? Do they bite their nails, act out or often throw tantrums? Then your child may be stressed. Here is a simple guide on how to handle this and change things around for the better.

    The first step is to stay calm. If you become frazzled, your child’s stress level will only increase. You know the scenario – child falls and doesn’t flinch…until he hears his mother’s gasp.

    The second step is to try and identify the reason behind your child’s stress. This way you will be able to develop a specific plan to reduce or eliminate it.

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    Here are the most common reasons children are stressed. Remember, even small babies and children can be stressed.

    Overload: too many activities with no time to relax. (over-scheduled). This can refer to a baby or toddler registered in too many classes all the way to a school-aged child who has too many after-school activities.

    Real-World Events: scary nightly news or exposure to world events

    Trauma: divorce, accident, death in family

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    Peer Problems: peer pressure, bullying, rejection

    Appearance: Concern with clothes, weight, appearance, fitting in

    School: Grades, homework, over emphasis on performance by parent or teacher

    Unrealistic Expectations: too pressured, standards too high in relation to ability

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    Home Problems: divorce, illness, a move, financial strain, stressed parents, sibling rivalry

    After having identified the potential cause or causes of your child’s stress, move onto step three, which is to come up with a plan as to how you can reduce or eliminate the stress. Here are some things to consider working on:

    1. Set a good bedtime routine.

    Heavy workloads and over-scheduling can deeply affect a child’s sleep patterns. Without a good night’s sleep of at least 9-11 hours a night, stress can build. Sleep experts suggest turning off all electric items 30 mins to 1 hour before bed.

    2. Turn off, eliminate, or ask for help to reduce potential stressors.

    Keep the news and your adult conversations out of your child’s environment as much as possible. Hearing you discuss politics, the economic crisis or the recent death toll from a natural disaster can really stress some children. Also, ask yourself, “Is there too much yelling in our home?” Another solution to different types of problems could be to hire a tutor to help your child with homework.

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    3. Cut out one or more activities.

    Evaluate your child’s daily schedule of school, home and extracurricular activities. How much free time does your child have left?

    4. Create family routines and rituals.

    Routines and rituals help reduce stress because it boosts predictability for kids. Not only will family meals, bedtime rituals, nighttime stories, hot baths, hugs and back rubs reduce stress, they will create lasting family memories.

    5. Monitor TV viewing.

    Kids say one big stressor to them is watching the news without an adult being there to explain late-breaking news events. We ALL could stand to watch less news as it does little to help us – limit TV or at the least, be there to help explain events that your child may see.

    6. Teach your children to repeat the phrase, “I can handle this” when they begin feeling stressed, as well as to take 5 slow deep breaths when they feel overwhelmed.

    Finally, the most helpful thing you as a parent can do to reduce the amount of stress your child has is to learn and practice ways of reducing your own stress. After all, less stressed parents = less stressed kids – that’s a fact.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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