How to help your kids develop a strong resilience against stress
Guest Post By Jessica Robinson
We all have experienced stress in our lives. We know how hard it can be to cope with it at times when it leaves us paralyzed with its impact. The current situation of the pandemic is an example of how we may have to face extremely stressful times in our lives, all of a sudden. This is how life is uncertain. No doubt, we are doing our best to keep our kids away from life’s stresses, but for how long can we do that? Whether we want it or not, they’ll have to face stressful situations in their lives. Many children are already experiencing high-stress levels because of the pandemic.
This calls upon us as parents, to help our children develop a strong resilience against stress right from their childhood. It is a must for them to spend a healthy and joyous life. We have to help them strengthen their defense mechanism against stress in such a manner that no matter how challenging the situation, they won’t break down. This is perhaps the best gift we can give them for life.
Now, here is how you can help your kids develop a strong resilience against stress:
1. Beacon them on the path of meditation:
Negative thoughts are considered as the basic cause of stress. Regular meditation helps us learn to see our thoughts as mere thoughts. As a result, we learn to sail through negative and stressful thoughts without being impacted by them. This is the necessary foundation of stress management. Can we be overly stressed when we are no longer bothered by intruding thoughts? The answer is a ‘No’. So, to help your kids develop a strong resilience against stress, you can beacon them on the path of meditation. As for now, you can help them meditate with the help of guided meditation YouTube videos for children. Afterwards, when the pandemic gets over, you can make your kids join meditation classes. But, make sure that your kids meditate every day as only then, meditation will reap long term benefits for them.
2. Help them preserve their state of mindfulness:
Mindfulness is the art of living in the present moment. Kids naturally live in a state of mindfulness. They don’t think much about the past or the future. As a result, they don’t accumulate stress. But, as they grow up, they start thinking more about the past and the future, rather than living in the present moment. Although thinking about the past and future is required at times like when they have to prepare for their exams, it becomes a cause of stress when this thinking goes on even when it’s not needed.
To understand this better, you can take your own example. As an adult, your mind continuously switches between the thoughts of the past and the future. This makes you feel worried and stressed even when you have nothing to worry about in the present. If you cut through this cycle through mindfulness, your stress levels will decrease significantly. Now, in case of your kids, you have to help them preserve their state of mindfulness. For this, you can help them perform some mindfulness exercises every day. Here is a straightforward activity for them, and you can also practice it along to start living mindfully again:
- Sit with your child in a peaceful place. Natural surroundings are always the best for this exercise.
- Make them close their eyes and ask them to focus subtle attention on their breath for some time.
- After 5 to 7 minutes, ask them to notice the different sounds around them. There may be a vehicle passing by, a bird chirping or a dog barking somewhere.
- After 5 to 7 minutes, ask them to open their eyes and relax.
- The regular practice of this exercise will help your kids learn to maintain their state of mindfulness.
3. Let them do things on their own when it’s safe:
Inner strength develops when we do things on our own. It makes us self-confident of our abilities, and we learn how to sail through stressful situations with our efforts. So, to help your kids develop a strong resilience against stress, you should try to let them do things on their own when it’s safe. For example, if your child needs water, you can take him into the kitchen and help him learn how to fill his water bottle on his own. There are chances that he may spill some water on the ground, but just let him. This will make him think of ways to prevent it from happening and slowly over time; he’ll learn to fill his water bottle without spilling even a drop on the floor. As a result, he’ll learn to apply his rational abilities under challenging situations, rather than becoming stressed about them.
4. Play with them every day:
Playing is associated with the release of endorphins in our body. Endorphins are neuropeptides which improve our mood, produce pain-relieving effects and thus, keep our stress levels managed. This makes every day playing as one of the best ways to develop strong stress resilience in kids. As these days, kids are not going out to play because of the pandemic; it becomes our responsibility to play with them at home. Although we may find it hard to make time for playing with them amidst our busy schedule, we have to do it for their well-being. So, let’s gear up and begin playing with our kids today. It will be extremely beneficial for us, too, as playing will help us keep our stress levels managed again.
5. Make them face their fears:
One of the most critical factors required for developing a strong stress resilience is facing our fears. If you wonder why it is so? Let me help you understand it with the help of a straightforward example. Let us consider that you are afraid of dogs. But, somehow you muster your courage and go to play with your friend’s dog. Now, how will you feel after playing? You’ll feel stronger and more confident about yourself. This will lead to the formation of new neural pathways in your brain, and you’ll gradually develop strong stress resilience by continuously working on overcoming your fears. So, this gives you one simple yet effective way to help your kids develop a strong resilience against stress, and it is to make them face their fears. If your child is afraid of the dark, take him for a walk on the terrace every night. This will slowly help him develop the confidence to go for a walk alone at the terrace at night.
6. Give them an ear to listen:
Giving your kids an ear to listen is one of the most important things you need to do for helping them develop a strong resilience against stress. When you make some time to attentively listen to your kids on a daily basis, you give them the opportunity to share their thoughts, emotions and feelings with you. This serves two important purposes. First of all, it helps your kids vent out their feelings and emotions which could otherwise trouble them if piled up inside. Secondly, it allows you to derive insights about your kids’ emotional and mental well-being. If you feel that there is something troubling them, you can beacon them on how to resolve it before it turns into a stressful thing for them. This will help them learn how to deal with troubling issues before they become a cause of stress.
Stress is an inevitable part of life. Whether we wish or not, our kids will have to face it too. This makes it crucial for us to help them develop a strong resilience against stress right from childhood, and the ways mentioned above can help us with the same.