At least one in three Americans feel they are “living with extreme stress,” and around three-fourths report experiencing psychological or physical pain due to stress. Among parents of minor children, the percentages are even higher; nothing increases stress like being responsible for one or more dependents.
Whether or not changing stressful circumstances is an option, changing your approach to those circumstances is often the first step.
Watch Your Attitude
If your default mantra is “It’s not fair,” or “Everything happens to me,” all you’ll get for repeating it is more stresses and frustrations—and a victim mentality that sees no point in even trying to do better. When you catch yourself speaking self-pity language, quickly replace it with positive affirmations (say them out loud for extra effect):
“We’ll make it through this and come out stronger.”
“Good things are going to happen today.”
“My children are strong, resilient, resourceful, and able to cope.”
Stay Away From Pity Parties
Online or face-to-face, there’s no shortage of people whose favorite social activity is comparing notes on how awful things are. It makes them feel momentarily better (misery loves company), but in the not-so-long run they just dig themselves deeper into pits of despair. When you sense a conversational swing toward the negative, make a habit of changing the subject to something more positive, and of politely excusing yourself if that doesn’t work. And choose your regular acquaintances for overall positive attitudes.
Count Your Blessings
Focusing on what you do like—right here and right now—does wonders for stress relief. Try scheduling “good things that happened today” conversations daily at the dinner table or as you tuck children into bed.
Don’t Assume Responsibilities That Aren’t Yours
It’s your duty to assure your children they are loved unconditionally; to see that their physical needs are provided for; and to protect them from real danger. It is not your duty to make sure they get straight A’s, never sustain a bruise, or become the lawyer you once dreamed of being. And it definitely is not your duty to keep the “error” part of trial and error out of their lives. Give them room to grow up strong and be their unique best selves.
Take Your “Me Time”
Set aside a few hours a week for long solo walks, hot baths, coffee-shop time, or whatever refreshes your spirit. Be assured that taking care of yourself will keep you a happy, healthy parent—and that this will benefit your children more than if you stay “there for them” until you’re exhausted and irritable to the breaking point.
Note to Teachers
At various times in your career, you’ll have parents storm into your life looking for a fight. Whether the point of contention is a child’s poor performance or a disagreement over health-and-safety policies, remember that making a scene is typically a symptom of being under stress—and that it won’t help for you to increase mutual stress levels by getting defensive. Be an empathetic listener, look for win–win solutions, and chances are your “antagonist” will quickly turn cooperative. Often, all they really want is to feel that someone understands.
A PLACE FOR HEALTHY LEARNING
If any of the stress in your life is due to a child’s failure to thrive in “traditional” academic environments, Shady Oak Primary School may be the right choice for your family. Rather than try to force every student into the identical achievement mold, we emphasize collaborative learning that brings out the best in every individual. Contact us to learn more about our “6 Pillars” approach to maximizing every student’s potential.