Traditionally, many school-aged children love school and look forward to start of a new school year. But for other children, it’s also a time of great stress. In fact, stress—those overwhelming feelings of doubt about ourselves or our ability to handle things—is as common in children as adults. The greatest challenge to parents today is teaching children to manage stress effectively. Children may react to excess stress with behavior that seems immature, inappropriate, or even disturbing. One child exhibits anxiety and tears the night before going back to school. Another child speaks of new teacher and asks her parents questions while trying to imagine the teacher’s personality. Another child enjoys shopping for school clothes and looks forward to seeing new friends. Stress can be terrifying to children who lack the emotional maturity or experience to understand and deal with it. The challenge for parents, teachers, and other caretakers include how to recognize signs of stress in children of different ages, how to know when stress threatens to overwhelm a child, and what to do about it. In Nurture Your Child’s Gift, I offer excellent suggestions to help parents cope with their children’s stress. A stressed-out condition can result from a specific cause or from life in general. Here are some examples:
- At 17, Jen was a high school senior expecting to graduate with honors in the Spring. Just before Christmas, however, Jen’s father lost his job and the family had to move into the basement of a cousin’s house. Jen soon developed a severe allergy, then asthma. The illness cost her so much time from school that she required home-schooling to make up the difference.
- Mark was only two when his parents divorced. Confused, Mark wandered the house, calling plaintively for his father, but weekends with Dad made him cry. Most weekends, Mark developed upset stomachs that were so bad he’d miss preschool on Mondays.
Toddlers need to feel safe and comfortable. Stress for preschool children can arise from a new face at home or at day care, the disappearance of a familiar face, visiting lots of new places at once, or abrupt changes in the family’s structure, relationships or daily routine. During the grade-school years, children become concerned with pleasing people like teachers, parents, guardians and coaches. School life—even a change in assigned seating or having to take a test—brings higher levels of stress every year. And when it comes to peers, even the threat of diminished acceptance is terrifying. Sleep-overs, birthday parties, sporting events and music competitions can trigger stressful reactions. Through middle school and beyond, the pressures kids feel from parents, teachers, peers, society at large, and from within increases. Children have to learn adapt to these pressures. Because they have grown in their intelligence, curiosity and knowledge of community, demands for their attention, time, energy and effort can often feel like a tug of war. As in the cases of Mark and Jen, it is not unusual for life-altering events to express themselves in illness. At the University of Missouri, for instance, researcher Mark Flinn found that a child’s risk of upper-respiratory infection increases by 200 percent for the seven days following a high-stress event. And parents like Miranda’s might confuse what they believe are normal behavior with an expression of anxiety. Children often display their tensions in small acts that have aggressive undertones.
How You Can Help
- There are many ways parents can help their children deal with stress and stressful situations.
- Don’t try to fix everything for the child, and avoid offering advice. Sometimes just listening so that your child feels truly heard may be enough to relieve the stress.
- As you listen, ask questions that encourage your child to think a situation through. “What’s the next step?” or “How would you handle that?” are good questions. Ask a lot of “what-if” questions, too.
- Help children listen to themselves. Nurture Your Child’s Gift suggests quiet-time techniques for children to listen to nature sounds like rain or waves upon the beach, to their own heartbeat, or to recordings of whales, dolphins or birds.
- Encourage children to spend time listening to their thoughts. When they feel free to speak their own thoughts aloud about a situation, things suddenly become clear.
- Nurture Your Child’s Gift details a diaphragmatic breathing exercise for kids and parents. Shallow breathing is associated with the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Deeper, effective breathing produces feelings of relaxation and calm.
- Use soothing and rhythmic music, even simple drumming, to help your child relieve muscle tension. It works!
- Don’t overlook exercise for releasing stress and tension. It works for your child just as it does for you. Have children walk the dog, get on the treadmill or stretch through easy yoga movements for children. Any movement they enjoy will help ease stress away.
- Parents can do much to alleviate stress in their children’s lives. Effectively dealing with your own stress is the first step. Showing your kids how to release their stress comes next.
Copyright © Caron B. Goode.
My Family Coach didn’t have cliche, immediate answers to my questions about managing a toddler’s outbursts. Instead, she asked me more questions about values and viewpoints. When we finished the discussion, I realized I was in complete harmony with my parenting values. Her viewpoint allowed me to talk through my fears of parenting too strictly.
Every day in your families, you may operate from the perspective of doing the best you know how to do in dealing with the challenges and opportunities. That is so true for everyone, even your coach, who probably came to her profession because of similar experiences. Would you choose to work with a coach If you knew you could and would be…
- More effective in relationships,
- More productive with your time.
- Better focused on your goals
- More successful in communication
If you knew you could accomplish your goal, then you would alter your behavior to correspond with these insights. Your family coach supports your breakthrough and speeds up your learning curve.
You Are Limited By What You Do and Don’t Know
The only access you ordinarily have to change and to influence your family comes from these two areas: 1. What you know 2. What you don’t know In efforts to achieve more or be a better person, you might learn to do something better, or try a different way you heard or read about. You try again a strategy that worked for you before. This is all good. The problem is that it doesn’t stick. The small increments of progress are just that….small, yet they can be powerful if they give you a new skill, relevant understanding, and a next step. That is where the Family Coach enters the scenario. Few of us can make the changes personally we desire without help. We need feedback, another viewpoint, advice, a listener, a person who questions how we will get there and what will we have accomplished in our parenting. Here is the success secret that few parents know: Extraordinary growth comes from outside the area called “you don’t know” – your blind spots. Imagine the big bubble right outside of your reach filled with a vast array of unusual, new ideas and advice you seek. However, you could be blind to the giant bubble of answers. Very few family coaches will tell you what to do. In one sense, that rips off your self-discovery process for yourself and all the family members. Instead, coaches listen, feel, observe, and ask to help you go to the inner bubble of personal knowing —THAT is your unknown, unseen wisdom waiting to rise to the top. You wouldn’t let your child climb on to a bike he doesn’t know how to ride without helping him balance, pedal and practice until he has a feel for the bike. You stay balanced with a family coach until you feel the thrill of success just like your child careens downhill on his bike with hands in the air, “Wheeeeee.” That is the thrill of accomplishment. Your child felt joyful at self-discovery, As a parent, you go through self-discovery too.
I learned about focused positivity from a stranger at a workshop. Positive thinking is a mental attitude that expects good and favorable results. Yet, attitude alone cannot suddenly manifest. A positive mind focuses specifically on the outcome of every situation and action. This is a powerful tool that everyone has, but few realize how to focus attention.
Seymour Taught Me…
Before I started the Academy for Coaching Parents International, I attended a workshop and met a man named Seymour. Our conversations led to one of my first ghostwriting gigs in completing Seymour’s nonfiction book. What impressed me about his rags-to-riches story is that he was positive about using focused energy to achieve results, and he became wealthy over time by focusing energy.
His advice to me about starting a new business was that it unfolded through positive concentrated focus. He advised that I put aside several hours for three days a week. In these hours, I would focus solely on one task of my choosing. I chose to focus on formulating and developing the Academy for Coaching Parents International. His theory that my concentrated, focused work for three hours a day, several times a week. allowed my energy to manifest,. Indeed, it did. I learned to trust the process on robust and focused positivity.
Positive Thinking Includes:
1. Our innate capability to produce desired outcomes with positive, focused thoughts. We create our world by the way we think and how we focus those thoughts. We do this by using the power of positive focus. Each conflict or problem that we confront is merely an opportunity to evolve and to alter the circumstances to our liking.2. Having belief in possibilities when the facts seem to indicate otherwise.
3. Making creative choices.
4. Meeting problems head-on sometimes by allowing focus for problems to solve themselves.
The Concept of Positive Focus Explained
Thought precedes form. When we concentrate our focused thinking on one outcome, we trust the process. We don’t allow doubt and interruptions to break our concentration. In short, when focusing energy, you also believe in the possibilities of the manifestation. Even if you doubt a concept like Seymour taught me, you can put concentrated focus to the test like I did.
My doubts did not bother Seymour. His support was more like “Try it. You’ll like it. If you don’t try it, you will never know.”
Of course, I tried it. Focusing didn’t involve any more than sitting down, stating aloud my goal for the process, and focusing for a three-hour stretch, which I chose. My focus was on researching and eventually manifesting the Academy for Coaching Parents International.
The concentrated thoughts influenced my universe. Each idea, once generated and sent out, becomes independent of the brain and mind and will live on its own energy depending upon its intensity. Thus, my concentrated focus worked.
All of our feelings, beliefs, and knowledge are based on our internal thoughts, both conscious and subconscious. We are in control, whether we know it or not. We can be positive or negative, enthusiastic or dull, active or passive. These attitudes are maintained by the inner conversations we regularly have with ourselves, both consciously and subconsciously.
NEW: Why does ACPI now offer Certified Professional Consultant Training after a dozen years of providing only Professional Coach Certifications?
The answer is to specify and encourage skills for the specific temperament types and blends of people dedicated to serving and helping others. The roles that each temperament type might look very different.
For example, what each temperament type might offer is not so black and white, as much as, it depends on the preferences of the blended temperaments and motivation. For example,
- Thinkers have advice to give and problem-solving skills to offer in an organized fashion.
- Supporters often share emotional support and offer hands-on practical advice.
- Creative Influencers remind us of the motivation to create and the allowance to unfold and manifest those innovations.
The coaching model for self-growth maximizes a person’s performance by unlocking one’s potential through a series of questions, choices, and determining how results rate.
Rather than teaching, coaching is akin to guiding, checking in with questions and reviewing progress toward goals or outcomes on a set schedule. The coach has graduated from a course or training that signifies expertise in the coaching model.
Consulting, on the other hand, involves giving advice. Also, the one giving advice is an astute expert in a particular field. A Professional Parenting Consultant, for example, demonstrates knowledge and solutions for advising in a specific area: for example; sleep, tantrums, school performance, adolescents, or babies.
Getting babies to sleep,
Managing a toddler’s tantrums
Helping a five-year-old learn to focus and complete a task.
Helping a school-age child learn discipline through study skills, play skills, or focusing skills.
A Certified Professional Parenting Coach might ask more questions about the situation:
What is the bedtime routine?
What instructions, if any, does the parent give the child?
How strictly is the child monitored, depending on the child’s age?
What schedule has the parent set for the child?
What resistance or behavior does the child exhibit?
What role is more comfortable for you?
The bottom line about training in coaching or consulting is best determined by idetifying your temperament and motivation