The Tools and Reasons for Teaching Kids Healthy Stress Responses

Children learn to manage their emotional responses from those with whom they spend the most time, their family, teachers and friends. If you react strongly to stressful situations, then that's how your children learn to react. The opposite is true too. If you under-react to situations, your child may do that too.

Since your children learn from you, managing your stress in a more healthy way twill help set them up for success in a highly-charged social environment. Stress is part of life and as a member of American society there is tons of it to go around. Research shows the more adept we are at managing stress (I didn't say controlling it), the healthier and happier we tend to be individually and socially.

Since you, yes YOU, are the primary models, along with their teachers, for your children, it is imperative you use some basic stress management tools in your home so your kids can know how to take care of themselves. These aren't hard, in fact they are so easy, you will probably laugh and try to blow me off when I tell you about them.

Your children watch your emotional responses and learn from them. First of all, it isn't just about having the tools to manage your responses well, it's how to use them and why they work for you and your kids. I said earlier, your kids watch your "emotional responses." Let's say you get an upsetting phone call and when you hang up your child asks, "What's wrong?" Instead of slamming things around the kitchen, muttering about the caller, and... You get my drift. You say, "I feel so angry, I'm going to count to 10 and maybe I'll feel better. Do you want to count with me?" Your actions not only serve you but your child too.

Yeah, you're thinking, "Right I'm going to say that?" Think about it, this might seem oversimplified but actually it is the simple tools that work the best. You are taking a second to key into your feelings, using "I" statements to say what you feel. You are using a basic, effective stress management tool, and engaging your kid in the process with you. By verbalizing and engaging your child you've just connected with your child on a new deeper level.

Besides kids, especially young kids like to count and like to say their ABC's. This find this ritual comforting and calming. Now you are adding a second level to a fabulous stress management tool, keying into your emotional responses and using them to teach your children to manage theirs.

My name is Kim Bernal Smith and I am the founder of Heart to Heart Communication. I work with parents struggling to create a deep-loving relationship with their children and who want to build a foundation of trust and a culture of acceptance in their family.

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