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What You Can Learn From Kids

Your Child's Hidden Gift to You

Is it just me, or are a lot of parents cranky, rushed, frustrated, and resentful these days?

Has this ever happened to you?

The alarm goes off, and instead of slowly waking up, your mind snaps into action and begins to race as you review the day's to-do list. Your heart pounds as you wonder how you're going to get it all done! You find yourself consumed with frustration, and you've only been up for three minutes! You think, "Today is going to suck!"

Circle of Moms member Melissa M. is stressed, too. "Some days I feel like the worst mother in the world because I can't get everything done, while other days I feel so resentful . . . I feel like I'm entitled to a break every once in a while as well."

The pace of life has changed for everyone. We all feel rushed, frustrated, and exhausted from meeting our daily commitments and living 24/7 in what feels like a pressure cooker.

To attain more balance in our lives, we try all kinds of things: we eat organically, run, walk, or do yoga to help our bodies manage and release the stress. Some see a therapist to release the pain of the past.

Did you know there's something your child does every single day that can change the way you look at your stressful, busy life?

Keep reading.

Watch your child at play, at rest, eating, and interacting with others. She's 100 percent focused on whatever she's doing. She plays with wild abandon and seems to inhale enjoyment with every breath. She's living in the moment and thrilled to be alive.

I know you're stressed; we're all stressed to one degree or another. Believe it or not, some of the pressure you feel comes from how you're thinking about what's going on in your life.

W. Mitchell says, "It's not what happens to you, it's what you do about it."

Wayne Dyer reminds us, "Change your thoughts, and you change your world."

Those are not just platitudes. They're life keys that explain how to manage the stress and frustration you're dealing with. Yes, the concept is simple, but aren't most basic truths in life the simplest?

To "change your thoughts," participate in your daily activities the way a child would. Be 100 percent focused on each activity or interaction, and only that activity. One thing at a time, as they say!

If your mind wanders to a stressful place or tries to focus on something you'll be doing at the end of the day, bring your thoughts back to what you're doing now and remind yourself, "I'm washing the dishes right now, I'm not rushing the kids to school or making dinner. Right now all I need to do is pay attention to washing the dishes."

When rushing and stressed, take control of your thoughts. Thinking, "We're going to be late, again!" actually slows you down and sucks your energy because you're consumed with negative thinking. But focusing on how yummy the food is or enjoying how silly the kids are energizes you, leads you to peaceful feelings, and sets the tone for your day.

Many are quoted as having said, "Watch your thoughts for they become your words." Lots of moms say, "I'm so busy, overwhelmed, and stressed. There's never any time for me!" Chanting those thoughts over and over again not only sets the tone for the day, but it also produces more stress and makes you feel like you have no choices about your life.

We can't change what's on our plate, but we can change how we feel about it. So let your child's way of looking at life be her gift to you. It's priceless!

Sharon Silver is a parenting educator and the founder of Proactive Parenting. She's also the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be.

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