How to Stop Dumping Your Stress Onto Your Kids
"I was wondering if anyone has noticed a correlation between their level of stress and the way they have handled their child?" writes Circle of Moms member Haley H. "For instance being short fused on bad days, etc.?"
Absolutely! I think parents are just plain worn out! Many parents, especially in this economy, are working hard, feeling stressed, and can't make adjustments to how many hours a week they work. They arrive home frustrated, angry, sad, and tired. They wonder, "What happened to the life I planned to live? Parents ask me all the time, "How do I stop dumping my stress all over my kids?"
Who Has Time to Relax?
Many experts and articles suggest you take time for yourself, do some breathing, find your passion, have a date night, or add some "me time" to your day. Those are all great ideas; I've suggested many of them myself.
Even though those are all great ideas, I find I never use them. Why? Those suggestions all require that I do something. I don't know about you, but when I come home frustrated, angry, sad, or tired, I don't have an ounce of energy left in me to do one more thing — I'm spent and ready to pounce! This week's tip is very simple, very heartfelt, and reduces parental stress!
The one thing that children want from a parent is their attention. If you break down what attention really is, you'll see that it's a connection, plain and simple.
"Essential Connection" Dissolves Stress Fast
When a parent and a child connect, their hearts open. Both parent and child feel the love surging back and forth between them. When they're both filled up with the love that naturally flows between them, they feel renewed. Both feel whole and connected to each other again after being separated or busy all day.
Focusing on love and creating a connection causes unseen properties to magically eat up stress. It's as if stress and love can't exist in the same space. When a stressed-out parent takes a few minutes to just sit and loving reconnect to their child, heart to heart, it's like a key has been inserted and the stress begins to dissolve.
The key to really making this work is to change your mind. If you're convinced that it won't work, then it won't. If you let go and believe that love is the key, then it will work. As Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can — or you can't — you're right." All you have to do is change your mind. As my wise friend and many others say, "Once you shift your thinking — your world changes."
The best thing about reconnecting is you don't have to do anything to make it happen. All you have to do is stop and give each other a true-real-essential hug, really connect. Then let your child do all the work. Ask her to tell you about her day. Acknowledge how well she's doing. Make no mention of the things that have to get done or the things she's done wrong today. That's what an essential connection really is. It's a moment that's sacred and stands outside of daily life.
When you focus on the heart, on love, you change your biological chemistry. Happiness, softness, warmth, and kindness begin to take the place of frustration, anger, sadness, and exhaustion. Love and essential connections tend to fall by the wayside each day due to the fast pace of life. That's how stress creeps in and takes the place of calmness and love. Essential connections are a magical thing that happen between a parent and a child. Make them happen more often, use them as a resource to de-stress.
The next time you're feeling out of sorts, stressed to the max, pulled in a million directions, take five minutes to sit down, reach out, and create an essential connection with your child. Open your hearts to each other again. And sooner rather than later you will feel renewed and ready to face life again.
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.