Elisabeth Stitt writes about connection, consistency, communication, and empathy as key parenting concepts for parents of kids of all ages.
Last week I wrote about how anxiety is affecting parenting by sharing the shift that I have seen in my 30 years of working with families. This week I want to outline what I think are some key buffers against parental and (by extension) kid anxiety. In light of the shootings this past week, it feels like I should be addressing the topic of how do you reassure children they are safe, but I still go back to my observation that the younger the child, the more the fears are the old ones that have always been there—being separated from one’s parent, fear of the dark and later fear of being made fun of. Addressing children’s fears is an important topic, but today I am going to stay focused on keeping your own parental anxieties at bay.
According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, anxiety among children 6-17 is steadily on the rise. Data from 2011-2012 found that 1 in 20 US children has an anxiety diagnosis. That represents a statistically significant increase since the 2003 data; and one can only imagine that were the same data taken in 2018 that there would be a further increase. The numbers only go up with adulthood: 18.1% of the over 18 population every year is found to have an anxiety disorder (This includes anxiety diagnoses like OCD and social anxiety in addition to General Anxiety Disorders, making it the most common mental illness in the U.S.). Data on whether or not rates of anxiety have increased in general in the United States are inconclusive. But from my own experience, that was one of the main reasons I made a shift from teaching kids to supporting parents, and I think my experience sheds light on what is typical.
Once the shine of the new school year wears off, it is time to settle into the routine of school. Here are steps for helping your child figure out how to handle the homework the teacher’s give her. Aid her in problem solving but recognize that if you tell your child how and when to do her homework, chances are it won’t work. At this stage, it is more important to help her develop her own tools for managing her work.
THAT CHILD IS A BULLY!
Have you ever written off a child in your neighborhood or at your child's school as a bully? It is easy as parents for us to get defensive and judgmental. Bullying sets parents off and strikes a very sensitive chord, but lots of what we fear is bullying is normal interactions among kids—they just need the skills and the example to use it.
Happy to be included among the experts sharing their tips in this article on healthy eating. One other tip, not shared here, that a nutritionist gave me was Only feed your kids at the table. That's one I wish I had learned when my daughter was a toddler. That means no mindless snacking while in the car or on the couch. I know my own health would be better if I followed that rule (and I would probably add to that, no mindless eating while scrolling through Facebook or checking your email). Read HERE for some more great tips on getting your kids in the habit of healthy eating.
Among the reasons that electronics and screen time is problematic is that kids are on their devices when they would otherwise be doing something physical. Fortunately, parents can use fun physical activities as a draw to get kids away from too much screen time. Check out some of these ideas from some other experts and me on how to do that in this blog by Hania Syed of mydeal.com.au. Personally, I find it easier to provide attractive alternatives than to have a lot of rules about when and how long their kids can be on their cell phones or iPads. Of course you may still need to have firm limits, but it is much easier to get kids excited about some kind of project--especially when you are right there doing it with them--than arguing whether they can play just one more game or write one more post. Click HERE to read on.
In talking to parents this summer, one of the comments I have heard a lot is some theme or variation on how much better the children’s behavior is during the summer compared to the school year. In other words, children who have enough downtime and sleep and fewer demands put on them, are more likely to cheerfully and cooperatively engage in family life.
Children will be happier, healthier and more ready to learn with less hectic schedules and fewer demands put upon them. READ ON for some ways to create that for your kids.
One of the great things about summer and school being out is being able to take your kids on more outings. Some parents, however, find getting their kids to leave the beach, the zoo, the park—or wherever you have decided to go—without tears and tantrums so challenging, that they would rather stay home.
Here are some ways to assure that you come home as happy as when you left.
I was happy to contribute to this article on bad habits parents should drop. I had cell phones on my mind--and getting them under control is absolutely important--but I love the points the other 5 contributors make, as well. Probably one will resonate more than the others as being especially hard for you. Focus on that one and consider what kind of plan you can come up for yourself.
Click HERE to see which of the 6 Bad Habits Parents Should Drop you fall prey to.
Penn State reported in 2015 in a 7-year longitudinal study that “Parents who have better co-parenting relations feel more supported and confident, less stressed and depressed and they show more warmth and patience with their children” (19 January 2015). I love this! So many parents ask me how to keep their temper when they are overwhelmed. This study shows that having the articulated support of your parenting partner buffets you against stress and being at the end of your rope.
Want your partner to responding lovingly and warmly to your parenting ideas? Start by creating connection with ACTIVE LISTENING.