5 Way You Are Stressing Your Kid Out
I was shocked to sit in church Sunday and hear that statistically the most stressed out people on the planet are currently between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. It should probably come as no surprise that every 5 days, a child in the U.S. that is 13 years old or younger, commits suicide. These statistics are devastating and should serve as a wake up call to parents everywhere. I found myself wondering what invisible struggles my 8 1/2 year old might be facing that I hadn’t considered and how I may be stressing him out.
After some soul-searching and a heart to heart, I came to the conclusion that these are the top ways parents are stressing out their kids!
#1 Unclear Expectations
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It doesn’t take much to realize we all are guilty of placing unclear expectations on our kids from time to time. A common issue in our home, is expecting my son to understand things the same way I do. I will often give him a list of verbal instructions that don’t seem complicated. Children already have a lot on their plate, however, and written lists can help. We found that adding a chore chart to our fridge helped immensely!
#2 Unrealistic Expectations
As our kids grow, their brain doesn’t always match their body. My son is smart, capable, and pretty tall for his age. He’s losing his baby fat and starting to look more like a young man and less like a little boy. I often catch myself expecting him to act like the young man I see, instead of the little boy he still is. This can translate into “watch your sister while I use the bathroom” and turn into him watching her for 30 minutes while I fit in every other little task that comes to mind. Being tasked with mature responsibilities frequently would be stressful and unrealistic for any kid.
#3 Not Offering Enough Help
Have you ever said the words “you made the mess, you pick it up!”?
I know I have! I do believe that kids should be taught to clean up behind themselves, it’s an essential life skill. However, what happens when our teenager comes home with a broken heart? Do we want them to deal with it alone, or trust us to help them put the pieces back together? Instead of expecting independence from our adolescent children, we need to give them grace even when it is inconvenient. Help them pick up their messy room, or clean up the milk that they spilled. Being a parent who is present in the frustrating moments lets them know they don’t have to navigate through life without help.
#4 Not Enough Space
Your child’s need for personal space will vary with their personality. A more extroverted child may do better with minimal space, but an introverted child will need frequent quiet moments. You don’t have to give your child excessive privacy, but allow them time to be alone and decompress. I personally only have so much energy that I can give to the people around me before I implode. If your child is in their room or outside alone, guard that time for them and make sure their emotional needs are being met.
#5 Expecting Eager Compliance All the Time
In our home, backtalk and sarcasm is not allowed. I often find myself giving quick correction that isn’t necessary though. It is very rare that I wash dishes, cook dinner, take out the trash, or do laundry with joy. It’s ok for your child to not be ok and enjoy their responsibilities. They will build character as they do the things they don’t enjoy. Just remember you are their safe place and it should be ok for them to vent to you.
Stress is one of the most broadly accepted, and widely dismissed feeling in today’s culture. I truly believe adjusting your expectations is the key to helping your child learn to process this big feeling in a healthy way. The smallest changes can make the biggest impact, and when you allow your child to act their age and be human, their stress levels will sink and they will thrive!
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