Stress is a natural part of life that can impact a person, no matter what their age. Despite parents trying to keep things from children, little ones are very intuitive and oftentimes pick up on worry — despite their parents' best intentions. If adults aren't careful, it can be very easy for anxiety from mom or dad to spill over on kids, but it's also possible to keep this concern from affecting your child. Whenever you're feeling the stress creep in, consider trying these five things to keep your own negative feelings from impacting your child's outlook.
- Don't Ask Leading Questions: Don't create the expectation that your kid should be worried or upset about something. Avoid setting a negative tone and immediately putting them in an anxious mindset by asking things like, "Are you nervous about this?" Instead, keep things neutral by asking, "How are you feeling about this?" and let their own emotions lead the conversation.
- Fake it Until You Make it: Even if you are internally freaking out over their science fair project or upcoming soccer game, be your child's biggest role model for positive thinking. Little ones turn to their parents to gauge a situation, and if they read that you are calm and confident, you'll be able to see that security reflected in your kiddos.
- Problem-Solve Out Loud: When it's obvious that things aren't necessarily going as planned, you don't have to outwardly lie to your child and shield them from every high-stress situation. Instead, use it as a learning opportunity by showing your child how to keep calm under pressure and diligently focus on working things out. It's OK for kids to learn that everything in life doesn't always go as planned as long as they are exposed to healthy ways of picking up the pieces instead of falling apart over the mess.
- Don't Focus on the Results — Focus on the Progress: If the majority of your attention is only on the completed task or potential outcome, your child will quickly understand your concern with the results trump the value of their effort. Instead of letting your own worry over how things will turn out discourage your kiddo from even trying, focus on acknowledging their progress and the smaller steps along the way as opposed to just the final outcome.
- Do Relaxing Activities Together: Not only is this a beneficial way for you to spend some quality time focused on relaxation without having to give up any precious time with your kid, it's also a valuable way to expose your child to healthy ways of dealing with potential stressors. Acknowledging natural anxiety that's apart of life and teaching your child different coping mechanisms will benefit him or her for life.