What Your Kids Know That You Don’t Think They Know

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Have you ever considered that your stress level has an affect on your children?

You hide your stress pretty well… don’t you? Your kids can’t tell… right? I read the following statistic and it stopped me in my tracks:

Three-quarters of adults believe their stress has a slight or no impact on their kids. However, 91 percent of kids say they know their parents are stressed. (American Psychological Association, via The Washington Post, Nov. 9, 2010)

Maybe I am not hiding it as well as I think I am. Maybe my kids pick up on way more than I would ever give them credit for. So… what can I do about it? I am sure there are many ideas, but here are just a few:

Get some sleep. We know that we need sleep. We have seen study after study that says we are less stressed and way more productive if we get sleep. But we don’t. We stay up later, get up earlier, and stay stressed. Try this. Go to sleep early enough to be in bed for a minimum of eight hours, for at least five nights in a row. I know this might take some finagling of the schedule (or discipline of the remote). Watch what happens. Notice how you feel – physically and emotionally.

Get some exercise. This isn’t the place to get all technical about the magic endorphins that are released when you exercise. I’m also not saying you need to go out and train for a marathon or lose 300 pounds. Go for a walk. Ride a bike. Throw a ball. (Hmmm… maybe even with your kids!) We ended up moving our exercise bike into our living room. It was harder to say “tomorrow…” when I could see the bike from the couch.

Get them involved. I’m sure some will argue with me about this, but I think we keep our kids in the dark about too much of our “adult stuff.” Obviously we need to be wise about what we share and when we share it. That said… according to the statistic above, they already know! Talk to them about it. Is the stress due to something temporary or more long term? How are you feeling about it? How are they feeling about it? What would they like to see change? It could be a hard conversation. But it will certainly be valuable.

How do you go about reducing stress? How have you seen your stress affect your kids?

 

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