By Traci L. Carman
Happy New Year!
In the work that I do with parents, and also in my own personal life, I have noticed that children are different today than they were 20 years ago. Children are getting overwhelmed, stressed out and are shutting down more than ever.
Life has sped up and school and sports are asking for more. We keep our children very busy. It is important that we be conscious about whether or not the lifestyle and pace that we are creating is healthy for our children. It may work just fine for some, and not for others.
I thought I would share some insights on how to support our children in this time of life, and meet them where they are. After all, if theirchildhood is full of stress and overwhelm, that will be what is familiar and seemingly “normal” to them when they are creating their life as adults, raising their own children. Not a pretty picture.
#1 ~ Observe your children. Are they calm, happy and joyful? Or are they stressed, overwhelmed and shut down? Children are naturally playful, full of laughter and live “in the moment.” How are your children showing up at home, school, in sports, and in other areas of their life?
#2 ~ Talk with your children. Be sure to check in with your children regularly (daily would be great). It’s important not to interrogatethem, but to be interested in them. There is a huge difference (and they will let you know that). How are they keeping up with school? Are they excited about anything? Do they get to explore hobbies they enjoy, and things they are passionate about? Do they have friends? Do they smile? If there are issues and you see that they are shutting down or seem unhappy, you want to be very sensitive when you explore those areas. It may be difficult for them to pinpoint what is not working for them.
#3 ~ Support them. You are the #1 advocate for your children. No one else is going to step in and support them, comfort them, and clear the way for them like you do. If you don’t do it, they are left vulnerable and alone. Knowing what to do will come from building a relationship with your children through conversation, modeling and quality time. This builds trust and creates a safe haven for them. They need that; we all do.
If your children are coping well, keep those lines of communication open, continue to observe them for quality of life, and be their advocate. Every school year and every age bring new challenges and new successes. Be present with your children in every stage.
If your children are not coping very well, it can be a simple fix (although not always). The sooner you begin actively addressing it, the more quickly it will resolve, and the easier it will be to adjust when future stresses arise. Success builds upon success.
To create a healthy tomorrow, we need to create a healthy today. To gift our children with freedom, choice and passion throughout their lifetime, we must be present in these developing and crucial years. It’s not about control and it’s not about giving them complete freedom. It’s about guiding, training, communicating and supporting. We are building relationships and we are teaching them how to do the same.
Remember every child is an individual. What works for one, may not work for another. Some children are more sensitive than others. Some are more bossy than others. Some are leaders, others followers. Who is your child? How can you support him/her today and in the coming year? You are their #1 advocate and you are creating their future with them right now. What an opportunity to love another human being!
Wishing you an amazing 2011.