The Over-Scheduled, Stressed-Out Child, Part 2

In my last blog post, I shared how your child doesn’t need to participate in a laundry list of extra curricular activities or be enrolled in the most expensive private school in order to thrive cognitively: she just needs YOU. And since moms today can’t be with our children 24/7, I’d like to share some ways that you can help compensate for the time when you are away from your child.

Focus on being present in the moment

When you walk in the door, no matter how exhausted you are, spend time with your child actively listening and speaking in complex language. Be present without multi-tasking. Reaffirm that you love her and that she is safe.

I know that it’s hard. You want to watch TV, unwind, or tend to the thousand other things left on your checklist. You want to whisk her to the next activity for “her own good.

Stop. I assure you: nothing is more important than bonding with your child. If that means fewer dates or hours logged at the office, then do it. If it means your child waits a year for piano lessons or T-Ball, fine. Science says you, and you alone, are responsible for this little person turning into another functioning member of our society. You need to step into your adult.

Teach your child stress-management

Sound impossible? Don’t worry. I can show you how. Once you re-committed to being there for your child, there’s one more step: you have to arm your child with stress management techniques that work.

Bad things are going to happen. Your instinct is going to be to shield your child or to let her “sink or swim.” What your child really needs are strategies to roll with the punches – that’s what successful adults do better than their peers.

Most importantly, stress reduction has been proven to enhance your child’s capacity for learning and can even increase your child’s IQ by twenty percent. Scientists and psychologists have spent decades researching the benefits of meditation, progressive relaxation, creative imagery, music, and even free play in helping children manage stress levels. Don’t let your child enter the chaos of our public education system without the right tools.

Your child is growing up in a more stressful world than ever before. Mental illness is rampant. Children are under a constant barrage of testing fire in a system that squashes creative growth and emotional development. They are growing up in a post 9/11 America where uncertainty and stress are the rule, not “news.”

Raising your child successfully means empowering her to meet the challenges without being derailed. When your child knows there is always a place she is safe and loved – and when she’s seen you model the stress-management techniques that work – those challenges will be readily met.